Training for Life: Failure often leads to bigger and better successes
When people are famous or successful, we tend to think that they have always been at the top of the world. We might think, “Wow it would be nice to be her or him.” We might contemplate, “I wish I could be that person,” or “I wish I could have her/ his life; it must be awesome!”
What most of us tend to forget is that in order to get where those people are, one also has to go through what they went through to get there. How many times did they fail before getting to the top? There is a long list of what ifs and possible difficulties each successful person must face on the journey to success.
I share here some research I did on the lives of three people and the odds they overcame before reaching success by modern standards. Getting to the top wasn't easy for any of the three.
JK Rowling: “The first agent I ever queried (for Harry Potter) sent back a slip saying ‘My list is full. The folder you sent wouldn’t fit in the envelope,’” says Rowling. To add to the agony, the agent even kept the folder in which she sent her book. To which she says, “I really minded about the folder, because I had almost no money and had to buy another one.” Says a lot about the humble beginnings about someone who has consistently been among Europe’s richest persons — after her books and movies released. But she never gave up trying — even after rejections from 12 publishers. And that’s a classic tale of motivation and mindset that’s needed to reach the top bestsellers in the history of literature. I think it’s finally settled — success stories are built on the back of hard work and steely determination, not daydreaming during the job.
Walt Disney: He was fired from the newspaper animation job for “not being creative enough.” And that was the turning point of Walt Disney’s life. Instead of moping around, Disney drew motivation from getting the boot. He started creating characters, one of which made him a fortune he couldn’t even dream of at that time. Today, Disney’s Mickey Mouse is so iconic that its popularity is more than almost 90% of humans that are alive. Think about that — a cartoon character so larger than life that it overshadowed real humans. Disney went on to win 22 academy awards (the most ever!) plus four honoraria's, taking the tally to 26. He’s also the most Oscar-nominated person in history with a total of 59. From getting fired to becoming filthy rich for the same reason he was fired for, success stories like Disney’s should be taught in school.
Jan Koum: Ring a bell? If not read on, it just might! Although he wasn’t your typical victim of racism, he faced some pretty tough rejections before sticking up to the folks who had rejected him for the job. Koum, born and raised in a small village in Ukraine, was the only child of a housewife and a construction manager who built hospitals and schools. Incredibly, he didn’t even have hot water growing up. Several years down the line, he (along with Brian Acton, his co-founder) again faced crisis in life when Facebook refused to offer them a job role. But what they did next is the stuff of industry legend. Jan and Acton created a chatting app called WhatsApp. Then they sold it for a crazy $19 billion to the same company (Facebook) that refused them employment. What would’ve happened if Facebook had accepted these folks before?
Conclusion — Any so-called failure may actually be preparation for the end result of ultimate success. Keep going — even when the going gets tough, failure is a normal part of the process.