Failure is the highway to success. Tom Watson Sr, of IBM, said, “If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.”
If you study history, you will find that all stories of success are also stories of great failures. The world only sees success. They don’t see the struggle behind the success, and say “He got lucky, he must have been at the right place at the right time.”
Let me share a famous life history with you. This was a man who failed in business at the age of twenty-one; was defeated in a legislative race at age twenty-two; failed again in business at age twenty-four; had his sweetheart die when he was age twennty-six; had a nervous breakdown at age twenty-seven; lost a congressional race at age thirty-four; lost a senatorial race at age forty-five; failed in an effort to become vice-president at age forty-seven; lost a senatorial race at age forty-nine; and was elected president of the United States at age fifty-two. This man was Abraham Lincoln.
With these many failures, if Lincoln had quit, probably nobody would have blamed him but nobody would remember him either.
The greatest people in the world turn a setback into a comeback.
As a young cartoonist, Walt Disney faced many rejections from newspaper editors who said he had no talent. One day a minister at a church hired him to draw some cartoons. Disney was working out of a small rodent-infested shed near the church. Seeing a small mouse inspired him to draw a new cartoon. That was the start of Mickey Mouse.
All success stories are stories of great failures. The only difference is that every time they failed, they bounced back. This is called failing forward, rather than backward.
In 1914, Thomas Edison, at age sixty-seven, lost his factory to fire. It had very little insurance. No longer a young man, Edison watched his lifetime effort go up in smoke and said, “There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burnt up. Thank God we can start anew.” In spite of disaster, three weeks later, he invented the phonograph. What an attitude!
Success is not an accident. It is the result of our attitude. Going through life without using your ability to think is like shooting without aiming.
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will, you can react responsibly or resentfully—the choice is yours.