Turning Failure Into Success – Steps 1-5
Obstacles and failures, if applied correctly, can actually become our stepping stones for a successful life trek. Obstacles and failures in life are always more significant when they are our failures. From my perspective, all of my failures are major failures. This reminds me of the saying, “Minor surgery is when it performed on someone else; major surgery is when it is performed on me.” The same concept also applies to obstacles and failures.
This week we will look at the first five lessons we can learn by turning those failures or obstacles into stepping stones.
Always look for the positive side of the obstacle or failure. It’s easy to blame someone or something else (or even fate) for the events in our lives, but it takes courage to be able to see the bright side of a failure and move on. So be brave, be persistent, and be dedicated. Be committed, confident, and passionate; remember you have only one life to choose from. It takes time and focus to overcome fear and gain a positive mindset. The first lesson is to consciously maintain a positive attitude. If you do this, no matter what you encounter, you’ll be able to see the lessons of the experience and continue to push forward.
Stepping Stone #1 – Take courage and be positive.
Failure is a time for celebration. Failing is never fun, but if you celebrate the fact that you have gained knowledge, wisdom, and discernment then the failure has served a useful purpose. The trail to success is littered with the failures of those individuals who chose to celebrate the opportunity that each failure provided. The most significant breakthroughs in all areas of life were built on the backs of failure. Whether it was Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, or a host of others, their celebration of failure, spurred them onto success. Ralph Heath states, “One of the biggest secrets to success is operating inside your strength zone but outside of your comfort zone.”
Stepping Stone #2 – Celebrate the wisdom gained.
Failure teaches us to calculate the risks we take. When we fail, we can analyze the risk that we had to take and readjust the process. Risk may not be eliminated, but we will better know what risk not to take and be better prepared. The risks you take should be calculated; you shouldn’t fly blindly into the night and simply hope for the best. Achieving the next milestone on your trek requires calculated risk along with preparation, practice, and some awareness of your skills and talents. “To reach any worthy milestone, you must take risks.”
Stepping Stone #3 – Take calculated risks.
Failure will draw out negative opinions from others. Be prepared to hear from individuals that will gladly share their negative opinions and doubts about your plans and may try to persuade you to give up before you achieve success. Do not listen to this type of advice, but seek out only those individuals who are wise, experienced, and able to provide honest and productive advice – even if you don’t agree what they have to say. Some of those individuals may not see the potential until you succeed. When you do succeed, they will no longer see the barriers, they will want to know how you did it. Pauline Estrem once said, “To achieve the greatest success, you have to embrace the prospect of failure.”
Stepping Stone #4 – Accept only wise advice.
People who fail often grow as leaders. We are all leaders in some aspect or realm of life. To become a natural leader you can’t be afraid to do, then re-do, and re-do again if necessary. You do not wait for the trail to be smooth and free of obstacles. You are looking forward, up the trail, and are willing to take calculated risks. You embrace the journey of a life that would make life better for yourself and others. You are perfectly willing to slip and stumble at times in order to advance. You take responsibility for your failures and learn from it. You have a passion for what you do and improve upon your failures and persist until you make a success of it. Thomas Edison put it well when he said, “The sweetest victory is the one that’s most difficult.” The one that requires you to reach down deep inside, to struggle with every step you take, to be willing to traverse the most precarious trails without knowing what the path may be like once you reach the next mountain top.
Stepping Stone #5 –Growth comes during times of difficulty.
As we consider how failure can lead us to success this week, I will relate a story from one of the most successful leaders ever who also failed many times, but learned wisdom and great success.
Let’s look at the story of Moses and his father-in-law Jethro. This story can be found in Exodus 18. Let’s explore verses 13-18, “The next day, Moses took his seat to hear the people’s disputes against each other. They waited before him from morning till evening.
When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he asked, ‘What are you really accomplishing here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?’
Moses replied, ‘Because the people come to me to get a ruling from God. When a dispute arises, they come to me, and I am the one who settles the case between the quarreling parties. I inform the people of God’s decrees and give them his instructions.’
‘This is not good!’ Moses’ father-in-law exclaimed. ‘You’re going to wear yourself out—and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself.'”
In other words, Jethro was letting Moses know, that in this situation, he was failing at his tasks, but by learning from his advice, he could achieve success. We will continue this story in next week’s Wisdom Notes to see what advice Jethro gave to his son-in-law Moses, as we look at five more ways we can turn failure into success.
Next week we will explore Stepping Stones 6-10 on our journey to turn failure into success.