• Travis Lish

Empowerment Through Failure

What 2 things do each of these individuals have in common?

MIchael Jordan

Abraham Lincoln

Walt Disney

One thing that each of these individuals have in common is that they were wildly successful in their respective fields. The second thing they had in common? They were also failures.

Michael Jordan was cut from his Sophomore basketball team, Abraham Lincoln lost 8 elections before achieving political success and Walt Disney was fired for not being “creative enough”.

Failure: A Tipping Point

Jordan, Lincoln, and Disney have all become household names. We appreciate their greatness and admire their accomplishments, but what if they reacted differently to their failures? What if Michael Jordan walked away from the game of basketball at the age of 16? What if Abraham Lincoln threw in the towel after one of his election losses, and what if Walt Disney would have abandoned his creative efforts?

We can’t know exactly how things would have turned out. Who would young basketball players in the 90’s have wanted to be like, if not like Mike? Would a different president be bold enough to end Slavery if not for Lincoln? What timeless stories would we all know if they weren’t Disney stories? We’ll never know.

Giving up may have seemed like the wise decision for them in their moments of failure. 16 year old Michael had no assurance that he’d be the greatest basketball player of all time or even that he’d make the high school team his junior year. Lincoln and Disney weren’t able to see the future to their later successes either.

In the moment of their failures, they each made decisions that changed their lives and with time, impacted many throughout the world.

When we encounter failure, which inevitably comes to us all, we are faced with a decision. We can use it to empower us or allow it to defeat us. It is those choices that turn people into legends, and cause others to fall into the shadows. How can we let our failures empower us rather than defeat us?

Empowerment Through Failure

So how do we use failure to empower us?

Unfortunately, many allow their failures to define them. When you believe that failure defines who you are, you will be afraid of failure and you will seek to avoid it. The problem is, if you seek to avoid failure, you also avoid opportunities to learn & grow.

As you try new things, your likelihood of failure rises and learning becomes possible. Avoiding failure may be a safer way to live, but it is also void of growth and fulfillment.

So rather than tip-toe your way through life seeking to avoid failure, try new things and fail often. Failure is not final and it does not define who you are. As soon as you embrace failure as an opportunity to learn and grow, there is no telling what you might accomplish.

Does this mean we aim for failure? Of course not, but it frees us from the fear and anxiety that come with failure and opens the possibility of using those experiences to improve yourself and whatever you’re working on.

Get out there and try new things. Look failure in the face and learn from it. As you do so, you will grow, you will progress, and you will join the likes of Jordan, Lincoln, and Disney.

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