Maybe the key to success is not focusing on succeeding like we’ve been led to believe, but by simply doing the next right thing.
All of the following quotes are from successful people who were once just like me – a nobody with a passion. They were criticized, told they were stupid, told they didn’t have what it takes; many were penniless and bankrupt in both pocket and spirit. And yet they pressed forward. Why? Because they couldn’t stop themselves. An inner drive kept them going when the world told them to stop.
- “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” ~ Samuel Beckett
- “Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.” ~ Confucius
- “Great success is built on failure, frustration, even catastrophe.” ~ Sumner Redstone
- “Failing is one of the greatest arts in the world. One fails toward success.” ~ Charles Kettering
- “Failure provides the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.” ~ Henry Ford
- “The fastest way to succeed is to double your failure rate.” ~ Thomas Watson Sr.
- “Only those who dare to fail greatly can achieve greatly.” ~ Robert F. Kennedy
- “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot … and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. That is why I succeed.” ~ Michael Jordan
- “I never learned a thing from a tournament I won.” ~ Bobby Jones
- “Our achievements speak for themselves. What we have to keep track of are our failures, discouragements, and doubts. We tend to forget the past difficulties, the many false starts, and the painful groping. We see our past achievements as the end result of a clean forward thrust, and our present difficulties as signs of decline and decay.” ~ Eric Hoffer
- “Flops are a part of life’s menu and I’ve never been a girl to miss out on any of the courses.” ~ Rosalind Russell
- “The essential part of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” ~ Edwin Land
- “I don’t believe I have special talents, I have persistence … After the first failure, second failure, third failure, I kept trying.” ~ Carlo Rubbia, Nobel Prize winning Physicist
- “Every great cause is born from repeated failures and from imperfect achievements.” ~ Maria Montessori
- “No matter how hard you work for success, if your thought is saturated with the fear of failure, it will kill your efforts, neutralize your endeavors and make success impossible.” ~ Baudjuin
- “Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune; but great minds rise above them.” ~ Washington Irving (The above quotes were taken from But They Did Not Give Up, found at https://www.uky.edu/~eushe2/Pajares/OnFailingG.html, with many thanks.)
So, once again I ask, what is the key to success? As hard as it is to believe, failure seems to be the common consensus. Or rather, the guts to get back up after failure. Maybe failure is a necessary stepping stone. We step, we slip, we fall. We get back up and try for a better foot hold. We may slip and fall again, but each time we get back up. We rethink and readjust, and step again. Eventually we find ourselves teetering instead of instantly falling. That’s improvement. As we keep at it, we keep our balance a little longer as we build core muscles. And eventually we have the strength and balance to step from stone to stone. First tentatively, then confidently, and eventually effortlessly.
The difficult part of this process for me is that it happens over and over again, in multiple areas of my life, over a lifetime. It’s not a one time event. Every time I dare to dream, those desires take me to a place I’ve never been before which means more tries, more mistakes, more learning, more rethinking, more readjusting.
But, isn’t that life? What is life without a reason to get up in the morning? What inspires us but the challenge to succeed? To create something beautiful? To accomplish something noble? To bend and stretch and dance to our own tune? To hit higher notes and dig deeper and reach farther and see clearer? A cause worth fighting for.
We all have it. Some of us have several.
It’s what makes us tick. It makes us who we are and the reason God put us on this earth. It’s our reason for making a difference and our own unique way of making it happen.
“A ship in harbor is safe – but that is not what ships are for.” (John A. Shedd in Dream Big by Todd Wilson)
“Most people live and die with their music still unplayed. They never dare to try.” (Mary Kay Ash in Dream Big by Todd Wilson)
“Of all the people I have ever known, those who have pursued their dreams and failed have lived a much more fulfilling life than those who have put their dreams on a shelf for fear of failure.” (Author Unknown in Dream Big by Todd Wilson)
“What we really want to do is what we are really meant to do.” (Julia Cameron)
“Failure has a way of liberating you from superficiality.” (from the movie, Coffee Shop, directed by Kevin Sorbo)
“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” (George Bernard Shaw in Dream Big by Todd Wilson)
“The place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” (Frederick Buechner)
Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor whose entire family was killed, including his 24-year-old wife, went on to write A Man’s Search for Meaning. He says, “He who knows the why for his existence…will be able to bear almost any how,” and, “Man’s main concern is not to gain pleasure or to avoid pain but rather to see a meaning in his life.” Viktor reminds us that there’s no mountain too great when you have a reason to climb. (Viktor Frankl: How Love got Him Through @ Life Stories)
“If you think you’ve blown God’s plan for your life, rest in this: You, my beautiful friend, are not that powerful.” (Lisa Bevere #WithoutRival)
“Life’s challenges are not suppose to paralyze you, they’re suppose to help you discover who you are.” (Bernice Johnson Reagon)
God hardwired us to make a difference. Our contribution matters. Our efforts, even though often unrewarded, matter. So, don’t cheat yourself or the world out of your gift. Shine in the darkness; be the voice of reason in the midst of chaos; be the calm in the eye of the storm.
What is success?
This is my definition: Success is being the best version of me and using my passion to make a difference. When persistence fails, ingenuity finds a way. It’s not so much what I do, but why I do it and how I do it. That’s why I’m writing this blog; not because I have all the answers, but because I will never give up trying to find them.
What is your definition of success? I would love to know!