Unlucky people look at failure as an end, a dead end. If you fail, that part of the journey is over and you might as well try something else because you just found one more thing that you’re not good at. You might get depressed, sleep and eat a lot, listen to depressing music and then finally come to a point where you decide to either move on or to declare yourself a failure.
Lucky people are very different. They look at failure as a step closer to success. Peter Kash, author of Make Your Own Luck: Success Tactics You’ll Never Learn in B-School as well as a professor and an investment banker who is an expert in luck (or what he calls the “Web of Life”) says that every time he hears the word “no”, he knows that he is one step closer to hearing “yes”.
Kash describes the difference between persistence and stubbornness. When there are 10 doors, persistence is trying each one of them until you find the right one. Stubbornness is trying one door and when it doesn’t work, trying it again and again.
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. – Albert Einstein
A lucky person will try every possible route until he gets to where he wants to be.
Looking through history and even people I respect in my lifetime, there are so many examples of failure leading to success.
When I was growing up, I loved to play basketball. I still do but back then I was on my school’s basketball team and now I am lucky if I play a game of pickup every once in a while.
My favorite story was that of Michael Jordan. I watched him 3-peat for the Chicago bulls, I watched his videos and incredible moves which were all unbelievable but the most incredible story was that he got cut from his high school basketball team. He was told that he was too small and not good enough. Jordan worked harder than anyone at his school and probably anyone at all and became one of the greatest professional athletes of all time.
Here are a few more stories of people who used failure as a step towards success:
Seinfeld and Cheers were both among the greatest television shows of our time and they were both supposed to be canceled after the first season.
Walt Disney, the creator of Disney world, Mickey Mouse and many other famous characters that children grow up with went bankrupt with his first cartoon.
Glenn Paul (thanks for the correction Fatma) Cunningham was burned badly and his parents were told that he would not live. He survived and started to recover but the doctors said he would never walk. When he started to walk, the doctors said he will never run. Paul Cunningham turned out to be the first American ever to run the four minute mile.
Kurt Warner was a Super Bowl MVP. Not many people know that he started his career throwing paper towels down the aisles at the grocery store he worked at.
Steven Jobs was rejected from Hewlett Packard. He told them that he was willing to take any job, even in the mail room and they can have his idea for a new computer for free. They did not want to know from it. Steven Jobs created the Apple computer.
The Beatles were one of the greatest music groups ever but Decca recording Co. rejected them and told them they have a sound that no one will listen to.
The business plan for FedEx got a “C” grade in Yale because the teacher thought it was not feasible. I’m sure that professor regrets that, now that it is one of the most successful businesses of its type.
Mary Kay was one of the best encyclopedia salespeople in her company but they would not promote her to a management position because she was a woman. She decided to leave them and start her own very successful cosmetics company.
One of the best examples of failure being the next step towards success is one of the United States’ greatest Presidents ever, Abraham Lincoln. He tried business and failed. He tried politics and failed. He tried each of those again and again, failing each time until he finally became President of the United States. He was quoted as saying “You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.”
As you can easily see from these stories, if you keep trying, you will get lucky. The road to success is paved in failure (that just popped into my head and I’m not sure if I made it up or stole it from somewhere else… if you know where I got it, leave a comment and let me know).
Let me know if you tried this “action item” and what your results were in the comments below.
I am a typical person more or less that has always tried to get away with doing the absolute minimum to get by. In school, I did my assignments last minute, I barely passes some of my tests, I crammed for everything and didn't care about retaining any information. I always wanted to be successful and get lucky but my problem was that I thought that luck and chance were synonymous. One day, all that changed when i found out that there was more to "Luck". I learned that it was possible to make your own luck and that people that were "lucky", all had very similar characteristics. I made a conscious decision to become one of those lucky people and the world started to open up. It didn't happen overnight and I'm still not there yet but at least I know what to look for and what to do. Recognizing the opportunities to get lucky is only the beginning of the battle. Now I have to train myself to jump on every opportunity and one day be truly "lucky".
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