I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed. – Michael Jordan
What does that mean?
This quote seems to imply the fruit of success grow from the ashes of failure. How does one fail their way to success? Well, outside politics, that is. Well, you can if you do two things. The first is to get back up and apply yourself again. If you don’t do that, you’re down for good.
The second is to learn something from the failure. If you don’t do that, you’ll repeat the same mistake again and again. Does that make sense? As Thomas Edison once said, he hadn’t failed, just found a bunch of ways that don’t work. Eventually, success came.
Some people don’t know that Michael Jordan didn’t make the Varsity basketball team in High School in his Sophomore year, and how that failure fueled his drive to prove himself. That failure to make the Varsity team was the start of his success.
Why is perseverance important?
So what is perseverance? I checked with thefreedictionary.com, and it said that perseverance was “continued steady belief or efforts, withstanding discouragement or difficulty.” Life is full of setbacks, discouragements and failures. Didn’t get the date. Didn’t get the job. Didn’t get there before the last one was sold. Didn’t make the team.
OK, so now what? Will you be defined by your failures? Abraham Lincoln failed a few times in his life as well, but that’s not what he is remembered for. And look at professional athletes. How often does a baseball player get on base? How often does a basket ball player make the shot? Do pro golfers miss a putt? Do pro football players miss tackles? Do those count as failures, or are they part of the cost of playing the sport?
If you aren’t failing, you’re staying too far inside your comfort zone, right? When was the last time you failed? Did you try again, hopefully with an improved strategy? How much more did you learn from your failure, compared to your successes? Perhaps you are different, but most of us learn more from our failures than our successes. Learn and try again, learn some more, and try again and again. Perseverance is the force that levels mountains, even if it takes millennia.
Where can I apply this in my life?
How about dating? What part of human existence is more fraught with opportunities to learn from our mistakes? Did you learn what kind of people can be found in different places and to be in the place you want to be found in? Did you learn how to approach someone (or get them to approach you) without it being too tacky? How did you decide what was too tacky, did you make some mistakes along the way? Did you persevere, or did you give up?
I never did quite figure out dating, but managed to stumble from relationship to relationship until I ended up at the altar. That didn’t last too long, but I learned a lot about myself, and the things I could and couldn’t tolerate. It helped me screen the candidates more precisely, and made things much easier when I got serious about my (now) wife.
What things have you kept at? Perhaps you need to go back to an earlier time… How many times did you crash your bicycle before you got good at it? Did you fail your way to success? How about learning to walk? How about learning how to feed yourself. Most people can’t remember back that far, but in most cases, you took at least a couple of tries before the spoon went in the mouth reliably.
For me, the thorn bush next door was the bane of my early bicycling days. Now I know it as “target fixation”, but it seemed to have mystical power. Every time I got close, I crashed into it. After hundreds, perhaps thousands of crashes later (at least that’s how it felt to me), I rode past it. I had finally failed my way to success.
Keep on keeping on, and eventually you will get there. Perspire and persevere, learn and try again. Over and over, and then once more again. To quote Les Brown’s son John: “it’s not over until I win!”
From: Twitter, undocumented feed (my bad)
confirmed at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/michaeljor167379.html
Photo by Esparta