June 26, 2016

"Failure": The Stepping Stone to Success

“Man, look at those celebrities! They are at the top of their career! Life is so easy for them! Everything is handed to them on a golden platter!” some of us may think. Individuals see blissful faces on books, TV, or movies, and envy them their lives. What we don’t see is the years --even decades--of struggle most of them have gone through to get where they are.

The Winding Road to Success

Everyone has different priorities. However, most people appreciate these things:
  • Clear goals
  • Clear trails to the goals
  • Quantifiable victory upon completion of the goals

However, life is rarely so convenient. Our road to achievement is not likely to always be straight, narrow, and well defined; just ask any famous person.

Our path may look more like the image above. Our trail may be curvy and obstructed by hills, rocks, or steep grades. At times, life just really has a way of forcing us to take giant leaps backward before we take small steps forward in any given area.

The Bible

“…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”—Romans 5:3-4 (NIV)

Hope is the finish line of the winding road paved with trials. Romans 5:5 states that the love of Christ is actually poured into us through hope.

Success Comes in Small Steps

Terry Fator is the America’s Got Talent, season 2 winner. Paul Zerdin is the winner of season 10. Both men are ventriloquists—extraordinary ones. Both men played to small audiences for years as they built their craft.

Eventually, they became well known. However, their road has been long and tough. That may be due to the unique nature of their acts. Paul Zerdin has performed for Queen Elizabeth and a Royal Variety Show. He also had a successful live show in Edinburgh, Scotland for a time. Terry Fator sang with a band. He was also the opening act for a variety of big-name singers. His shows at county fairs weren’t well attended.

Their well-deserved success didn’t take off until their appearances on America’s Got Talent. Terry Fator now has a multi-million dollar contract and a show at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Paul Zerdin headlines a show at Planet Hollywood in the same city.

Other Examples of Unexpected/Delayed Victory:
  • Steve Jobs dropped out of college and started Apple in his garage.
  • Bill Gates started Microsoft in a tiny strip mall.
  • Thomas Edison “failed” anywhere from 30 to 1,000 times (depending on the source) at creating a long-lasting filament for the light bulb.
  •  Post-it® Notes and potato chips were both created as mistakes, or as afterthoughts.
  • Steve Harvey and Tyler Perry both lived in their cars for a time before they became famous.
  • Basketball legend, Michael Jordan, missed more than 9000 shots during his career. This includes 26 shots that would have won the game. He also lost 300 games.

My Conclusion

“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”—Michael Jordan

If something isn’t working, God has bigger plans for your life. Be patient.”—Traci Lawrence (lol. I just wanted to set my quote apart, too, like a celebrity.)

Life constantly gives us the opportunity to experiment, or practice. Even in this dot.com age, true, lasting achievement doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, reality says that there are no guarantees in this process of discovery that we call “life”. The good news is that we learn and grow through our mistakes. This makes our eventual success all the more sweet.

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How have you found success after years of training?

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