We tend to think that superstars, billionaires, athletes and others who are amazingly successful have skyrocketed to wealth and fame with ease. Their seemingly overnight ascent to wealth, power, prestige and status—viewed from afar—was so natural that we attribute it to luck and being in the right place at the right time. We don’t stop to consider all the challenges, failures and adversities that they’ve had to contend with to get where they are in life.
The reality is that most, if not all, successful people have had to overcome numerous failures. The secret quality they possess is resiliency—the ability to bounce back when knocked down, mental toughness to overcome rejection, emotional intelligence to see past the haters and self-confidence to believe in themselves when no one else does.
J.K. Rowling was destitute, depressed and a divorced single mother. She did not come from wealth or privilege and singularly focused on writing a novel. After authoring Harry Potter, she is now one of the richest women in the world. Rowling states, “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.”
Oprah Winfrey was the daughter of a teenage single mother and grew up in poverty in rural Mississippi. She faced cruel hardships as a child, including rape, a teen pregnancy and her son dying in infancy. Winfrey believes, “There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.”
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work,” said Thomas Edison, the famous inventor, when asked about his many ill-fated attempts at achieving early success.
Michael Jordan, one of the best basketball players of all time, who was cut from his high school team, recalls, “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions, I have been entrusted to take the game-winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
If the most successful people have faced trials and tribulations, but ultimately triumphed, why should we be spared our own challenges? Moreover, why shouldn’t we also succeed? Daily roadblocks, hurdles, prejudices, discrimination and betrayals will confront our quest to succeed in life. It’s not just you; it happens to all of us. These impediments don’t have to stop your ambition. Whether it’s looking for a new job, advancing in your career or pursuing an entrepreneurial endeavor, go forth confidently, but recognize that—at times—you will fail and, oftentimes, fail miserably and embarrassingly. Keep in mind that it’s all part of the game. The key is to pick yourself up, not give a damn what other people think or say and start all over again.
Résumé submissions will go unanswered and you will receive insulting automatic-response emails from a robot at the company. There will be 10 interview sessions with 15 people over a six-month period of time and you’ll never hear back from the company. Be prepared for, “Sorry, you don’t have the right background. We are going in a different direction. You have too much experience. You have too little experience. We hired an internal candidate. Although you have the perfect amazing background, right educational experience and a wonderful attitude, we are going to still look for other people.”
Someone far less deserving in the office received the promotion instead of you. Your job was relocated to another location or you were downsized. You must be resilient and not let these things defeat or define you. They are temporary setbacks on the long road to success.
It is easy to get depressed, dejected, lose your self-confidence and give up. You just want to curl up in a ball, quit and put an end to the torture. Don’t give in. Failure hurts. It sucks. It’s certainly not fun, but if you want to make something of your life, it is part of the process.
Embrace the belief that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. No excuses allowed and don’t dwell on past failures. If you think you can improve your life, you will. Upgrade your thoughts about yourself and your abilities and everything will fall into place. Elevate your internal monologue to positive thoughts. Reprogram your mind to think of achieving all of your goals. Visualize yourself in the job with the company that you desire. Permit yourself to succeed. Avoid—at all costs—negative self-talk. Turn your thoughts toward optimism. Increase your expectations. Don’t just think positively, but take assertive and bold actions every day toward your goals. When struck with bad news or temporary setbacks, be resilient and don’t give up the fight. You have to remain focused.
In the face of rejection or failure, remind yourself of your long-term goals. Maintain the confidence in yourself, even if no one else does. You need to remain steadfast and focused, even when nothing goes your way. Keep trying, even if you keep failing. Never lose your sense of humor or sense of purpose. Don’t let the defeats change you. Stay positive, driven and motivated. Forget past failures and boldly move forward with confidence.
Resiliency is a superpower that will give you the strength and courage to effectively deal with short- term defeats, overcome them and forge forward toward success.