Failure is the highway to success. Tom Watson Sr. said, “If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.” If you study history, you will find that all stories of success are also stories of great failures. But people don’t see the failures. They only see one side of the picture and they say that person got lucky: “He must have been at the right place at the right time.”
Let me share someone’s life history with you. This was a man who failed in business at the age of 21 ; was defeated in a legislative race at age 22; failed again in business at age 24; overcame the death of his sweetheart at age 26; had a nervous breakdown at age 27; lost a congressional race at age 34; lost a senatorial race at age 45; failed in an effort to become vice-president at age 47; lost a senatorial race at age 49; and was elected president of the United States at age 52.
This man was Abraham Lincoln.
Would you call him a failure? He could have quit. But to Lincoln, defeat was a detour and not a dead end.
In 1913, Lee De Forest, inventor of the triodes tube, was charged by the district attorney for using fraudulent means to mislead the public into buying stocks of his company by claiming that he could transmit the human voice across the Atlantic. He was publicly humiliated. Can you imagine where we would be without his invention?
A New York Times editorial on December 10, 1903, questioned the wisdom of the Wright Brothers who were trying to invent a machine, heavier than air, that would fly. One week later, at Kitty Hawk, the Wright Brothers took their famous flight.
Colonel Sanders, at age 65, with a beat-up car and a $100 check from Social Security, realized he had to do something. He remembered his mother’s recipe and went out selling. How many doors did he have to knock on before he got his first order? It is estimated that he had knocked on more than a thousand doors before he got his first order. How many of us quit after three tries, ten tries, a hundred tries, and then we say we tried as hard as we could?
As a young cartoonist, Walt Disney faced many rejections from newspaper editors, who said he had no talent. One day a minister at a church hired him to draw some cartoons. Disney was working out of a small mouse infested shed near the church. After seeing a small mouse, he was inspired. That was the start of Mickey Mouse.
Successful people don’t do great things, they only do small things in a great way.
One day a partially deaf four year old kid came home with a note in his pocket from his teacher, “Your Tommy is too stupid to learn, get him out of the school.” His mother read the note and answered, “My Tommy is not stupid to learn, I will teach him myself.” And that Tommy grew up to be the great Thomas Edison. Thomas Edison had only three months of formal schooling and he was partially deaf.
Henry Ford forgot to put the reverse gear in the first car he made.
Do you consider these people failures? They succeeded in spite of problems, not in the absence of them. But to the outside world, it appears as though they just got lucky.
All success stories are stories of great failures. The only difference is that every time they failed, they bounced back. This is called failing forward, rather than backward. You learn and move forward. Learn from your failure and keep moving.
Below are more examples of the failures of successful people:
1. Thomas Edison failed approximately 10,000 times while he was working on the light bulb.
2. Henry Ford was broke at the age of 40.
3. Lee Iacocca was fired by Henry Ford II at the age of 54.
4. Young Beethoven was told that he had no talent for music, but he gave some of the best music to the world.