How in the world does a person grow during the low points in life? How can we take our setbacks and turn them into something great? What can we learn from our perceived failures? If there’s anything I’ve learned in all my 23 years, it’s how to use my darkest hours and lowest points in life to learn a lesson and eventually create a success.
To better understand where I’m coming from today, I want to open up with a quote from the late Randy Pausch:
“The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough.”
It oftentimes takes something really disappointing, something really drastic to get us out of our comfort zone and onto a real journey through life. It’s like the old saying goes; “everyone wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.”
It seems that everyone wishes to do something great or different but the major factor we all miss out on is our reaction to a setback. The way one perceives their failures will tell you a lot about the type of person they are. For some, failure means the end of the world. For others, it only means they learned how not to do something.
So, how can we change our thinking and learn how to grow during our downtimes?
We must remember three things.
1. FAILURE IS AN ILLUSION
Failure is a terrible word – I hate to use it actually. The connotation is negative; no, scratch that. It’s actually repulsive. To me, a failure is nothing but a lesson. Michael Jordan, as well as many other high achievers, will tell you they are most successful because they failed more than anyone else.
To them, the failures were their best teachers. They were never truly a failure in the sense of the word because they kept pushing for something better; they kept getting up. Their minds revolved around an explicit goal and their passion for success was greater than the reminiscence of an unfulfilled dream.
This is why failure is an illusion. If you choose to look at your setbacks as lessons, as positive criticism on how to improve yourself, you will never experience true failure; it’s impossible. You will continue growing because your eyes are set on what’s in front of you (desires, goals, passions) as opposed to the setbacks behind you.
During the downtimes, you may feel like a failure or be experiencing what you perceive to be failure. Remember, it’s an illusion; it’s only masking a great lesson to be learned. Embrace your experiences and grow from them.
In order to treat your perceived failures as lessons you must ask 2 questions. What can I learn from this? How can I make it better? I believe the answers are always there; however, you may have to ponder some questions longer than others.
2. OBSTACLES ARE PRESENT FOR A REASON
Ever wonder why everyone isn’t rich and famous? Ever think about why there are only a handful of professional athletes in the world? Ever wonder why some people get so much accomplished while others seem to mire in mediocrity?
One reason: Obstacles.
Everyone experiences obstacles in some form or fashion. It’s simply a part of life. It’s also the reason why only a select few people ever seem accomplish anything worthwhile. To be a professional athlete requires lots of dedication, practice, and the guidance of a great coach. Granted, you need some talent, but talent is overrated. Practice and persistence go much further than talent ever will. Do you remember what Benjamin Franklin once said? “Diligence is the mother of good luck”.
Oftentimes, certain obstacles are thought of as the lowest of the lows. My best friend just graduated with his MBA and he’s been pounding the pavement looking for work. Still, after lots of interning and working odd jobs for months, he’s landed nothing solid.
To date, this is one of the biggest obstacles he’s ever faced. However, he kept pushing; kept pursuing and doing what he thought was best. Just when he imagined it was time to quit his internship, he spoke with the boss and landed a position. Right as he began to entertain the thought of leaving, his diligence paid off.
Remember, the obstacles you face are there for a reason. They’re present to make you appreciate your accomplishments and they weed out the competition. It would be a boring life if everything worth having was easy to obtain. Obstacles are a blessing in disguise.
3. YOU ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH
Yes, you. You are more than enough. You don’t need much, if anything at all. All you need is you and a personal belief in yourself. You must learn to use your downfalls and setbacks as opportunities to grow and reach new heights. Remember that failure is only real when you choose to let it defeat you. It only exists when you allow yourself to give up.
Breaking barriers in your path are what make the journey so exhilarating. Hurdling obstacles and watching yourself progress is what makes life worth living. You are fully capable of turning your lowest of lows into the most memorable experiences of your life.
So what are you currently dealing with that you could change for the better? How could you turn your current situation into the best lesson you’ve learned yet? How can you create your ideal reality because of what you may now perceive as a setback?