Recently, during a business seminar, We came across this quote which we feel is very relevant in today society. We believe that this quote can serve as a great reminder to people, be it they are at the peak of success or facing some form of failure.
Let us share with you a short story.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston Churchill
John’s two-year old son slept silently in the old beat-up car that he now called home. This is what his life had come to. Homeless. Penniless. Hopeless. But he refused to ask for help. He was too proud. So he suffered that plight on his own, watching his son sleep, replaying all his worst fears and nightmares across his mind.
Rubbing a tear from his eye, he shifted into survival mode. That evening, he headed out in search of glass Coke bottles he could cash in for their redemption value at the corner drugstore. That was his only means of surival. That was the only way we was able to feed the hungry soul that was relying on him.
It wasn’t much. But it was enough to keep them alive on a diet of rice, potatoes, lettuce, cereal, canned soup and macaroni and cheese. An odd job would spring up from time to time, giving him a little bit of extra cash to pad his pockets with. It didn’t matter what kind of work it was. He was willing to do anything from fixing bikes to pumping gas. Anything to make ends meet.
That evening, after returning to the car he called home, he wept inconsolably. He hadn’t seen it coming. He cupped his hand over his mouth in an effort not to wake his son but it was too little too late. His son’s eyes fluttered and his heart skipped a beat. He was a failure. A complete and utter failure and all hope was lost.
Thoughts of ending it all flashed across his mind. But he knew he couldn’t do it. He had to fight. He had to give it all he had. He couldn’t give up with a little life depending on him. He had to grit and bear it and that’s exactly what he did. He prayed that night harder than he had ever prayed before.
He wasn’t asking for anything fancy. All he wanted was enough to get by. All he wanted was a respectable life for himself. Not this. Not homelessness. Anything but that. He just wanted a place he could call home, some money to pay the bills and put food on the plate. That’s all.
He had no idea how he was going to go from a failure in life, to succeeding. He just knew that he was going to do it, no matter what the costs.
This is the story of John Paul DeJoria, founder of Paul Mitchell Hair, a now-billion-dollar company. I recount this story because of the sheer power of determination and resilient will that resides in the human spirit. When we fail, we discover new meaning to our lives, forcing us to reach deep to find solutions to the problems that have plagued us for ages.
As a result, we can achieve outlandish goals. DeJoria went from being a complete failure and feeling dejected in life, to attaining the wildest success that one could ever imagine, with a net worth surpassing $4 billion. But imagine how it felt for DeJoria that night in his car, struggling for survival, fearing for his two-year old son. Homeless with nearly no money in his pockets, the desperation to pull himself out of the gutter must have been intense.
But DeJoria’s story isn’t unique. Plenty of successful and famous people have succeeded after major amounts of failure. Clearly, failure isn’t fatal. If it was, then no person who ever failed before would succeed in their lives. And we all know that isn’t true whatsoever. But the same thing applies for success. Success isn’t final because it might not last. In fact, success is often fleeting, here one moment then gone the next.
Failure Is Not Fatal
I know that it’s easy to get discouraged by failure. At first glance, when we’re going through the massive amounts of pain associated with failure, it can seem cataclysmic and fatal. As the walls come crashing in and your world comes crumbling down right before your very eyes, there’s little that anyone can do to offer hope in those darkest hours.
For DeJoria, a man who had only a few pennies to his name, failure wasn’t fatal. In fact, it was hitting rock bottom and being penniless and homeless that likely propelled him with the determination and persistence to achieve his goals. Something sets in when you fail in a major way like DeJoria did, or like anyone has that’s achieve monumental success.
The fact is that we spend so much time being afraid of failure, when in fact we need to welcome it. We need to embrace failure with open arms because it does far more to serve us than it does to hinder us. Failure allows us to reach new understandings, bridging mental divides that we once couldn’t fathom. Plain and simple, it’s quite possibly the most important tool in a successful person’s arsenal.
The truth? Life’s what you make of it. Whatever you focus on, will surely manifest itself. You can allow failure to be fatal. Sure. That’s clearly obvious. Just look at the person who’s entirely given up in life because they failed, turning instead to some sadistic measure of self-therapy through drugs or alcohol or gambling, or anything else for that matter, and you’ll see how failure might seem fatal.
But most people don’t entirely give up after failure. Sure, they have to go through the stages of grief associated with failure. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are all part of the learning process associated with failure. But it’s that last and final stage, where they accept their failure and use it for good, when the real magic starts to happen.
They embrace failure. They don’t take it as the final nail in the coffin. It isn’t fatal. It’s just beginning. Failure is the starting line, not the finish of the race. Through failure, you reach new understandings and realizations about what it’s going to take to succeed. Henry Ford once said that “failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” That’s all. You just start again, but this time, with a different approach and more knowledge behind your belt.
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