In case you missed it, this is the post I wrote for my friend Bryan at elevationlife.com. His blog is all about living your life for the best you can be. I love reading and being a part of the community that he is building.
Do you ever feel like a failure? Sometimes I do. I’ve messed up all kinds of things. If I was to begin writing all the different things/times that I’ve messed up, I would feel like a failure for sure. I am not sure why, but the other day, I really felt it.
I’m a new dad. My son was born January 1, which makes him roughly 18 days old, at the writing of this blog. At first, I felt pretty good about the dad thing. I was there in the O.R. (C-section birth) when he was born despite the ungodly hour (2:19 am after 30 hours of labor), I had no trouble holding him even though I had a pretty big fear of newborns, I was changing diapers, and I also do bed time. That is a pretty good start if you ask me.
Yesterday, the last part of his umbilical cord fell out which means he can finally take a real bath. I was not sure what I was doing, despite the best efforts of my “tool kits for new dads” class teacher. Nevertheless, I went for it. I got the water to a good temperature, filled his bath tub, set him in and started the bath. It took no more than 12 seconds for me to realize how over my head I was, despite a good start.
The problems and insecurities began immediately. I was totally confused about how to do it, I forgot how to hold him, did not know how to bathe him, and he peed in the water (which was the only part of the whole thing that I expected). Oh yeah, and forgot the camera and could not even remember where I put it, so Roberta didn’t get to take any pictures. By the end of it, I wasn’t thinking and poured a bunch of water over his head at once, and I think he swallowed some, because he began to choke and cough. I went to bed feeling like a failed father.
Being a failure actually puts you in good company. Babe Ruth, the legendary baseball player had almost twice as many strikeouts as home runs (1,330 and 714 respectively). Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Thomas Edison attempted to make the lightbulb (depending on who you ask) between 1,000 and 10,000 times. Abraham Lincoln served one term in the House of Representatives, but ran and lost two races for the Senate. Finance guru Dave Ramsey failed as a Real Estate investor and was sued (in his words) “more times than I can count” and lost everything he owned. Each every one of these people went on to bigger successes than their failures.
What is the commonality? There are 3 lessons these men learned from failure that helped to turn failure to success:
1) They did not let failure define them. Each one of these man have quotes about failure that reveal deep insight into the mind of winners. Thomas Edison (allegedly) said when asked about his multiple failures, I never failed at making the lightbulb. I found lots of ways to not do it. Babe Ruth commented about his strikeout records, each strike brings me closer to the next home run. Successful people do not allow failure to define them.
2) They did not give up. Failure may come knocking at your door, but you do not become a failure until you give up. Everyone is going to have things that do not come out as they were expected to. How you respond to them shows your character. Do you give up, or do you put your head down, power through and work that much harder determined to find success? Successful people do not give up on something that is important to them.
3) They learned from their mistakes. Success does not simply come to most people. In fact, those who find success often find it in the midst of failure. Dave Ramsey talks often about the difficult part of his life, when he was going broke and getting sued. He decided at that time, he was going to learn about money, and teach others what he learned. In the process of this, he has personally made millions and teaches others how to manage money, get and stay out of debt, and gain financial peace. Successful people learn from their mistakes.
The next time something does not go as you planned, don’t think of it as an obstacle that was placed in your path to trip you up, but as a stepping stone that will help you get to the next level of success.
The only difference between a stumbling block and a stepping stone is how high you lift your feet.