A twist on success . . .

I recently read a great quote attributed to Winston Churchill: “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” I have yet to meet anyone either “in the rooms,” or outside of them who doesn’t fret about failure.  Somewhere in our past, perhaps at the dinner table when we were young or in the many classrooms that demanded our attention over the years, we got the idea that failure was a bad thing, a shameful thing.  That it would define us.  That it determined whether or not we would ever amount to anything.  Our worthiness as human beings was directly tied to our success quotient.  Or so we thought.

What a sense of freedom, and one that’s well deserved, this quote by Churchill offers us.  No one reading this would ever consider Churchill a slacker.  He was anything but a slacker.  His definition of success doesn’t imply not trying to succeed.  But rather, that failure is normal.  No one of us succeeds at everything we attempt.  It’s the decision to try, again and again, that defines who we really are.

I remember reading, many years ago, that Edison made more than 5,000 attempts at creating the electric light bulb before he met with success.  Do you think he lost his enthusiasm?  I think we can safely say no.  Had he lost it, we’d perhaps still be sitting in the dark.  Not likely, of course.  Someone else would have followed in his footsteps; but the point of the story is that failure means simply that another attempt beckons.  And then another and another, if failure visits us.

A few years ago I read a great book by Malcolm Gladwell.  Outliers: the Story of Success, in which he posits that success is the direct result of continuous attempts at whatever the activity one is attempting to perfect.  For instance, to golf like Tiger Woods requires 10,000 hours of practice before even hitting the big time.  The same is true for every other star athlete.  And the likes of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates required the same tenacity and focus that both Tiger and Michael Jordan gave on the practice court.

Success requires recommitment.  Recommitment every day, every time, in fact, that a failed attempt at anything occurs.  Churchill knew the formula.  We all know the formula, actually, but too many of us quit before the finish line.  It gives one a sense of hope to look at both success and failure from this perspective.  We can do whatever is calling to us.  We can do it or it would not be calling to us!  That’s a spiritual principle I can promise you is bankable.

If at first you don’t succeed, consider, just consider for a moment, the possibility that asking your Higher Power for a little help is all that’s standing between you and success.  We can’t know whether Edison or Tiger or Michael Jordan prayed or not but we can be certain that prayer won’t contribute to failure.

If something is calling to you, go for it.  It’s a sign.  Success may not be right around the corner but perseverance can get you there.

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