Failure | A blessing in Disguise

December 6, 2012 - 16 minutes read

There is no man alive on this planet that isn’t familiar with the word “failure”. It is one of the most feared words and most of us don’t like to think about it. Often, in our lives, we come at a point where we see ourselves completely broke, disappointed and embarrassed by our own stupid mistakes and follies. There comes a time when we are at a total loss and don’t know what to do. Many a times, we are forced to face a situation when we are on the brink of going to pieces and in more than half of such situations we fail. But what does it mean? What is failure? In our most desperate moments we think of our failures as “the end” to every good thing that can happen to us. But how very wrong we are. If we do not succeed, it does not mean “the end”. Our failures are just like a missed shot. It just means that either our aim was not precise or there was something wrong with the bow. But the best thing about that missed shot is; it gives us another opportunity to take a step towards perfection. It gives us a chance to analyze why the arrow didn’t hit the mark and thus a chance to rectify a mistake. And that is the way to look at things. It is called seeing a “half full glass” instead of a half empty one. John C. Maxwell said,

[quote]“A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them and strong enough to correct them”[/quote]

 When we flick through the pages of history, we come across numerous examples who suffered failures and made mistakes but the reason history values them is because they learnt from their mistakes, corrected them and found their way to greatness. Let’s discuss few of these legends one by one.

 Sir Winston Churchill:

We know him as the twice elected prime minister of United Kingdom, a noble prize winner, an artist, an orator and a great wartime leader. But this great legend is a same person who had a stutter in speech and who was defeated quite a many times in public elections. He was criticized for his Gallipoli campaign and plans for invasion of Norway being a “failure”. Inspite of all this, he was the man who stood up against the mighty Hitler and Nazis and didn’t rest until the war of Britain was won against Germans.

Bill gates:

The co-founder of the biggest software company, William Henry Bill Gates III, needs no introduction. He is ranked among one of the world’s wealthiest persons and is currently working as the chairman of Microsoft Company. Going back in time and looking up his history tells us that his journey was not marked by an instant success. His very first business venture was a total flop. Surprised? Yes, it is true. Bill gates, after being chucked out of Harvard University started his first business venture with Paul Allen (later on, also co-founder of Microsoft Co.). As young entrepreneurs, bill gates and his partner Paul Allen started a project which world knows as “Traf-O-Data” to take data from traffic counters and make reports in order to help traffic engineers. But soon this need was eliminated when Washington offered free traffic processing services and thus the partnership ended there and then. Although this project earned less than mediocre success but it was a start. Bill gates might not have earned much in terms of revenue but the experience he gained in developing software proved substantial and later on helped in the rise of Microsoft co.

The reason we now regard Bill gates as a leader of software industry is that he learnt from his failure and converted it into a fortune.

 Abraham Lincoln:

This legendary figure was the sixteenth and the most popular president of United States of America, an excellent orator, an astute politician and one of the greatest leaders 18 century witnessed. The states thrived under his insightful thinking, charismatic pull and undaunted will power. Even today, he is a source of inspiration for many.
As a young lad, Lincoln at the age of age 23 had to face a severe business failure. He had a share in a small general store which went out of business after a series of feeble struggles. In 1832, he started his political career and lost his very first election for Illinois General Assembly. He was a charismatic young man, bestowed with such an aura and power to create a stir in huge crowds but the reason he failed was that he had not sufficient patronage and proper education. But Lincoln did not rest. Young Lincoln was not only serving as a post master at that time but also, he started to quench his insatiable thirst of knowledge. He burnt mid night oil and self-taught him all the books he could find on law. Soon, in 1834 not only he became a remarkable lawyer whom many considered a formidable opponent but also, he won the elections and thus started his journey which later on was marked by brilliance and excellence.

Akio Morita:

Most of us may not be familiar with this name but we do know his company, which is none other than a giant of electronics industry, SONY. There will be hardly any office or a home where you won’t find any of his products. But it will be hard to imagine that this high tech digital power house was once regarded as an absolute failure and of primitive ideas. Akio’s first product was a “rice cooker” and less than 100 of these cookers were sold to public. SONY actually became a laughing stock. The rice cookers were faulty and did not cook. Instead, they burnt rice.
Akio took this failure and all the criticism as a lesson. He was not discouraged and fearlessly, he moved on to other worthwhile projects. Soon after that SONY emerged as an electronic empire and became a money spinner.

 Harland David Sanders:

Want some mouth watering KFC? Well, who would say no to such a yummy treat, no one I guess. Did you know that the fried chicken which has become a worldwide favorite of all and sundry once was just another recipe which no restaurant was willing to take? Yes, my friends! It’s true. Colonel Sanders had a tough time finding a restaurant willing to work with him. His recipe was actually rejected a 1009 times! Shocked, right? Where an ordinary man would have given up after two or three rejections, this man of perseverance stood firm and did not succumb to failures. It is said that he carried his recipe with him all the time in search of partners willing to work with him. Our new generation owes him a big one for not giving up and depriving us of his finger licking good food.

 Henry Ford:

This name is no stranger to us. He is the man who revolutionized American automobile industry. Car freaks would die to get their hands on any of his smashing cars. Like many other great men, Henry ford’s journey to success and riches was not smooth. His first company Detroit automobile company went to pieces. One year later, he founded Henry Ford Company which again went out of business. Not backing down, he founded his third company which, yet gain, brought him to the edge of a break down.
His company had to endure a lot of complaints about his cars being out of reach and low in quality. Instead of crumpling down he analyzed his failures and paid heed to what market demand was. As soon as he realized what the chink in the armor was, he set to work and now we know him as the leader of automobile industry.

 Rowland Hussey Macy:

Most of us are familiar with the chain of R.H. Macy’s departmental stores. Rowland Hussey Macy, a renowned American businessman and the owner of R.H. Macy Inc. had a rough start. His first four stores (1843 to 1855) turned out to be dismally hopeless investments including the first of original Macy’s chain in Massachusetts, due to vulnerable demand conditions. Instead of being disappointed, he took these experiences as an opportunity to learn and thus reopened his store at upscale leading place in New York. Today, R.H. Macy Inc. owns more than 850 stores at different locations in USA.

Albert Einstein:

We know him as the Father of modern physics, a Nobel Prize winner and a universal genius  The scientific world owes him a great deal. In our modern dictionary, the word genius has been replaced by “Einstein”. This mastermind, whose sayings are often quoted by us to inspire our children and young generation, didn’t always suggest such potential. His parents and teachers regarded him as a dim witted child who started to speak at the age of four and was expelled from school. He was refused again and again for admittance in several institutes including Zurich Polytechnic School. This tragic childhood showed no traces in his later life when he grew up to revolutionize the world of physics.

Thomas Edison:

Even a child knows this great man as the inventor of bulb but very few people knew that he actually made about thousand attempts at inventing a bulb. Every failed attempt encouraged him more and learning from each mistake, his design got better and better until he finally succeeded.
Like Einstein, Thomas Edison was also often rebuked for being slow and “too stupid to learn anything”. He tried for few jobs but was fired. Though, his life is marred by failures as such of these, his courage to try never swayed.

 Walt Disney:

Whether it be the snow white or Mickey Mouse, a wicked step mother or Cruella de vil, all the characters Disney created, captured our hearts and still own them. Through his imaginations, Walt Disney created a whole new world to escape into, which was full of love, magic and wonders. He has countless hits to his credit yet, there was a time when he was called to have no imagination. He was fired from his job, started on few businesses which failed and had to suffer bankruptcy. In his teenage years he even tried for army but was rejected. He wanted to be a newspaper cartoonist but no one hired him. Even after the successive failures, Walt Disney was keen to set up his own studio with his brother. Their one of the very first series “Alice in wonderland” and “Mickey Mouse” were huge successes. They say he not only gave his voice to Mickey mouse but also his soul. He got the inspiration from a pet mouse. That was a start of a very long and a promising journey. Today, the Walt Disney Company is rolling in success with hit upon hit productions and various themes based amusement parks.

The great men we just discussed are few examples out of many. Like a drop out of ocean. History is so full of such incidents and great people who took their failures as a blessing and made the best from them. Life is like a long journey in which failure is just a point, a small phase, an opportunity to grow some more and learn some more. Each of the above success stories started with a failure, thrived upon the never ending endeavors and ended up on triumph. We all need to realize that no one gets their way easily. It takes a positive attitude, persistence and a will to go on in life. When one achieves this attitude, nothing can impede his way to his goals and dreams.

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