Failure or Results?

There is no such thing as failure. There are only results.

This is almost a corollary belief to number one, and it’s equally important on its own. Most people in our culture have been programmed to fear this thing called failure. Yet, all of us can think of times when we wanted one thing and got another. We’ve all flunked a test, suffered through a frustrating romance that didn’t work out, put together a business plan only to see everything go awry. I’ve used the words “outcome” and “results” throughout this article because that’s what successful people see. They don’t see failure. They don’t believe in it. It doesn’t compute.

People always succeed in getting some sort of results. The super successes of our culture aren’t people who do not fail, but simply people who know that if they try something and it doesn’t give them what they want, they’ve had a learning experience. They used what they’ve learned and simply try something else. They take some new actions and produce some results.

Think about it. What is the one asset, the one benefit you have today over yesterday? The answer, of course, is experience. People who fear failure make internal representations of what might not work in advance. This is what keeps them from taking the very action that could ensure the accomplishment of their desires. Are you afraid of failure? Well, how do you feel about learning? You can learn from every human experience and can thereby always succeed in anything you do.

There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist. He is right. People who believe in failure are almost guaranteed a mediocre existence. Failure is something that is just not perceived by people who achieve greatness. They don’t dwell on it. They don’t attach negative emotions to something that doesn’t work.

Let me share someone’s life history with you. This was a man,

who failed in business at age 31
was defeated in a legislative race at age of 32
Failed again in business at age 34
Overcame the death of his sweetheart at age 35
Had a nervous breakdown at age 36
Lost an election at age 38
Lost a congressional race at age 43
Lost a congressional race at age 46
Lost a congressional race at age 48
Lost a senatorial race at age 55
Failed in an effort to become vice president at age 56
Lost a senatorial race at age 58
Was elected president of the United States at age 60

The man’s name was Abraham Lincoln. Could he have become president if he had seen his election losses as failures? It’s not likely. There’s a famous story about Thomas Edison. After he’d tried 9,999 times to perfect the light bulb and hadn’t succeeded, someone asked him, sre you going to have ten thousand failures? He answered, I didn’t fail. I just discovered another way not to invent the electric light bulb. He had discovered another set of actions which had produced a different result.

Winners, leaders, masters — people with personal power all understand that if you try something and do not get the outcome you want, it’s simply feedback. You use that information to make finer distinction about what you need to do to produce the results you desire. Whatever humans have learned had to be learned as a consequence only of trial an error experience. Humans have learned only through mistakes. Sometimes we learn from our mistakes, sometimes from the mistakes of others. Take a minute to reflect on the five greatest so called “failures” in your life. What did you learn from those experiences? Chances are they were some of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned in your life.