As we close out our week on tools of success, there could always be a debate as to what tool is the most important tool in the tool box. Some could say motivation because you have to get something to drive you to succeed. Yes, we need something like a dream or a purpose to motivate us and nothing will start until you have that. Some will say education is the most important tool. Yes, we need to learn the ins and outs of where we are going to be successful. We are close to what I was thinking of but I’ve still got something else in mind.
When asked if he had ever failed, Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed; I just learned 10,000 ways that did not work.” So I would say that one of the most important tools to success is not succeeding: failure. This could be the biggest tool to help you realize your success in whatever you are searching for. I want to show you how it could be your number one tool. Let me give you five reasons:
1. How you learn to handle failure will determine if you will succeed. The key to failure is to get up one more time and learn, then change your formula. If you cannot handle failure in your life, you will end up letting failure label you. How you handle it is a big key to you becoming a success.
2. No matter how many times others tell you how to succeed, if you are a person who has to try new things all the time, you will only learn from your own failure. Some people believe it’s better to learn from the mistakes of others. As parents, that’s what we often try to do with our children: help them learn from our past mistakes or failures. Unfortunately most of us have to still get up and do it our way until we hit the wall several times. Some will even get up, and hit the wall again and again until we finally open up our ears to listen to what someone is telling us about how to succeed at it. Even my brother Nate told me things over and over; it wasn’t until I hit the wall myself enough to make it hurt that I finally heard it when someone else told me the same things he had.
3. It can reveal things about ourselves we did not know. Even though others may have tried something and failed, we may have a personality where we just can’t let it go. So we do something others have failed at, then we fail at it. Sometimes that failure is the biggest eye-opener when we see the pattern of it repeatedly in our lives.
4. When you want to invent something new you must do something that others have not done before or may have failed at. This may sound counter to what I wrote above but just because no one has worked out how to succeed at something doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Think about how many people tried to find a way to fly before different groups of inventors finally figured it out. Just yesterday I found out that with facebook’s new subscribe option I was able to subscribe to Tom (you know – that guy who invented MySpace). He has a facebook fan page and you can see how he talks of the failures of MySpace, of how he left the company and did not like the direction it was taking. He loved what facebook had done and he is using it to create some new business ideas now. There comes a time that things must change and you have to do it in a different way and that may mean you have to fail at it to make it work.
5. It can bring wisdom of the greatest minds. In the Bible you can read of many famous men’s failures: David was a man after God’s own heart and he was known as a man of war and a hero. But he slept with another man’s wife and had her husband killed, which was a personal failure. Abraham did the opposite of what God told him to do. Paul was known as Saul who was the number one persecutor of Christians, and yet he wrote most of the New Testament. Great men are often created from failure.
Failure is something that is a great teacher of success. If you want to figure out what works, start with what doesn’t work. Build from there. More people have become a success in life at something because a well-meaning family member, pastor, teacher, coach told them they couldn’t do it. There is something about us that we just want to prove people wrong. It can become a motivation to prove them wrong, so we will fail and fail and fail until we get the right mixture to make it happen.
Edison went through 10,000 failures to make the first light bulb. I’m glad he learned from them. It would have really sucked if he hadn’t. Think about it: he had to make 10,001 light bulbs just to make one that could be used or sold. Use you failures as a learning tool to take you to your greatest success.
I’m Tim Gillette, the Rocker Life Coach. It’s time to live your dreams, to love what you do and those you share your life with. Start to use failure as your tool to learn success and you will become the RockStar in your world.