Was it a failure or a step toward your success?

Dan MillerFailure, Personal Development14 Comments

The unexpected changes happening today are causing a lot of people to think they have “failed.”  But have they really, or is that occurrence a necessary step toward success?  Is it possible to be extraordinarily great in any area of our lives without going through those inevitable “failures?”  Can a world-class golfer get to greatness without hitting a lot of balls in the lake?  Can faith be mature and strong without going through doubt and radical uncertainty?  Does a person ever find that perfect job without going through several disappointments or even firings first? success failure 3d concept

I think we need to change our definition of “failure.”  It seldom means the end of hope – rather, it seems to be a necessary part of the process.  Can you welcome failure?  Can you at least see it as a healthy part of your  progress toward the success you want?

Daniel Boone was once asked by a reporter if he had ever been lost in the wilderness. Boone thought a moment and then replied, “No, but I was once bewildered for about three days.”  I like that.  Rather than saying you are lost, how about if you just acknowledge being bewildered right now with company closings, tight money and business challenges.

Many questions continue to show discouragement and defeat.  Recognize that circumstances have not changed that much from a year ago – or 10 years ago.  The principles for finding or “creating” work and the life you love are still the same.  Here are just a few examples of what I'm hearing:

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I lost my job last December, my Wife and I fight all the time now because I cannot find a job. I’m at the end of my rope and it about broke. Now what do I do? I've prayed and still no answer from God. Seems that my prayers are not heard.

When I apply for a job thru career builder or other job search sites I have NEVER  received a response or call for an interview.  Why?  My resume' is posted on the different job sites….   no recruiter has ever called me.  What is going on…?

I am a Nurse.14 months ago I started an on-line pet jewelry site. Everyone loved the idea. One problem, my site and shopping cart was not designed well or user friendly. I generated interest in the product but, made no sales from the site.  I am discouraged, and not sure if I should continue in today's economy or just call it quits with this product for now.

Hi, Dan. I feel like I am on the verge of a breakdown. I want to take a short leave of absence from my job to try to get things under control. How do I handle this without my employer thinking I am cookoo? I just need a break. I am a wife, mother, work full-time, take care of an elderly parent, you name it. ~Signed, Very Overwhelmed in Georgia

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Recognize these challenges are likely steps to greater success. 

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“If I could wish for my life to be perfect, it would be tempting but I would have to decline,

for life would no longer teach me anything.” Allyson Jones

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  • Oh jeepers creepers Dan I was cheering you on reading this!!! Seriously!!! It is sooooo easy to see ourselves stuck up against a corner in situations when in fact, most times it is a door of opportunity and adventure waiting to be opened.
    THANK YOU for doing what you do – you help us see that indeed there is an outline of a door waiting to be opened when our eyes see only that brick wall.

    • Jen – you are so right. It’s amazing to see what’s on the other side of a challenge.

  • Has anyone else had a problem opening up Dan’s blog posts inside of Microsoft Outlook? It is the only one that gives me this problem. It refuses to open it. (It must be a conspiracy :^) – or an operator error of some type.)

    (This was a problem for about 2 weeks. I think I’ve finally gotten it fixed! Yippee!)

  • Sadly we live in a society that seeks out safety with no risk. But achieving success can be a messy affair. – I think you are so right when you said, “I think we need to change our definition of “failure.” It seldom means the end of hope – rather, it seems to be a necessary part of the process.”

    • Jon – absolutely. Success is never a straight line – those little detours can either stop us or stimulate new creativity.

  • I like to think of it as levels. Each level you learn something new. Then that leads to another level. Computers are definitely like that (see my comment below). You have a problem. You figure it out. Then that helps you to figure out the next problem that comes along. It’s an advantage that older people have if they continue to learn. They can build on their past experience.

    • Eva – Glad you got your computer challenge figured out. Those challenges give us opportunities for new learning.

  • Brianna C.

    We can think of “failure” as a part of the process of elimination. We know one more way that won’t work, so we can eliminate that theory! It also provides more opportunities for areas to improve in.

    • Brianna – that’s a great perspective. Most successful people don’t view it as failure but as part of the learning process for ultimate success.

  • Leo Landaverde

    Sadly, most people give up after a failure or too. They let failure define them. Yet, failure is inevitable on our quest to success. I love the quote that says a ship is safest at harbor, but that’s not what ships are for. Risk is the bridge between failure and success. You don’t have to do anything to fail. Just do nothing and be safe, and that’s exactly what most people do. So, do something. Fail at it and get it out of the way. Then, get on to Success!

    • Leo – ah I love it. Just jump in, fail a time or two and get it out of the way. Seems to be part of the inevitable process for reaching anything remarkable. Thanks for your comments.

  • Well said Dan. My youngest son finally got a position as a sports writer, a long held dream. While he loves writing and sports seems to be in his blood, he has found that this is definitely not something he wants to do long term. He is actively pursuing other avenues more in line with what he’s realized are his true passions. He mentioned he regretted taking the job but I told him I felt if he hadn’t he would’ve regretted that all his life. He would’ve always wondered if he missed his big chance. Has he failed? No he just found out something he doesn’t want to do. That’s a step in the right direction in my book.

    • Ann – you are so right. Those “wrong” jobs are just a necessary part of the clarification to know what the “right” ones are.

  • Jevonnah Ellison

    Love this Dan. Acknowledging our moments of bewilderment and then choosing to use them as a stepping stone to greater growth is significant. Giving ourselves permission to be honest and transparent about what’s really going on is better than hiding our face in the sand and ignoring reality. When we face the truth, we have the power to change.