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They laughed at the Wright Brothers and sacked Steve Jobs – Success on the far side of failure

Sonal Mishra
15th Sep 2016
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What is Success? According to the Oxford dictionary, success is defined as the accomplishment of an aim or a purpose. In the words of Sir Thomas J Watson, Chairman and CEO of IBM (1914-1956) “Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it. So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that’s where you will find success.”

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There is no doubt that success lies on the far side of failure. It is your choice to be discouraged from your failed experience or learn from it. Success does bring fame, admiration, honour and money, but only to those who embrace bad experiences and keep going without losing their enthusiasm for their passion.

Think of the people you admire, most of them have had their share of disappointments, negative experiences, betrayals, and constant setbacks before they reached the greater heights of success. What made them succeed in the first place? The answer is simple, their resilience, perseverance and the ability to get right back up every time they fall.

Famous personalities like Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi and Henry Ford have proven to the world that failure is not a taboo. Steve Jobs – a college dropout, fired tech executive and unsuccessful businessman – wasn't always in an enviable position. He was fired in 1985 after a struggle with his board of directors. He seeded a new company, NeXT, which failed terribly in its initial three years and managed to sell only 50,000 machines. The company later came up with an impressive NeXT operating system which was eventually bought by Apple and is now known as MAC OS X. Steve Jobs became the permanent CEO of Apple and the stocks saw a rise of 9000 percent under his leadership.

Rejection is rough, but coping with it is not impossible. If you often find yourself falling prey to disappointment and dejection, follow these five strategies to keep failure from derailing you from your goals.

Write down your failures

It’s time to face the demon in the closet. Writing down your failed attempts will not only help you suspend negative feelings, but also encourage you to look at it critically, analytically and with curiosity. Why did you fail? What could you have done to produce a better outcome? Is there any alternative approach to your goal? All these questions can be easily answered if you develop the habit of penning down your setbacks along with their reasons. Just be true to yourself when practicing this activity.

Don’t take rejections personally

Fear of failure is often rooted in the approval of other people. What others think about you or your idea is not the ultimate truth, and giving too much importance to their opinions will restrict you from achieving your dreams. Remember that the experts laughed at the Wright Brothers too! Even though people ridiculed their idea, the duo spent years working on failed aircraft prototypes while incorporating their learnings until they finally got it right. Failure and rejection are an inescapable fact of life. The one who deals with them has a hand in determining the levels of success and happiness.

Stop dwelling on setbacks

Obsessing over your failure is the last thing you want to do if you desire to move forward. In fact, this is a perfect recipe for anyone to get trapped into an emotional doom-loop that can cause permanent damage. Think positive. Positive affirmations like, “I am finding a way to make it happen”, “I can do it and I will do it” and “I am making a constructive plan from my past learnings” will help you shape a better future.

It is neither your laurels nor your defeats that define who you are as a person. Rather, it is how you convert your failures into accomplishments that truly defines you as an individual! So, the next time you see that successful CEO, try to look into the decades of heartbreak, sacrifice, adversity, failures and mistakes that they went through to achieve that position.

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