“Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose,” is an expression I heard so often when I was growing up that it became part of my mindset. But, as I got older, that mindset began to change because I realized that I could actually learn from my mistakes, perhaps even more than I could from my successes. I discovered that was also true of other people as well. The fact that our mistakes and failures are actually some of the best learning experiences we will ever have seems to be a common thread that runs throughout all of life. Rather than allowing them to beat us up and destroy us, they can become our friends, if we choose to look at them in that light.
I want to be a high achiever and I am sure that you feel the same way. We should all desire to be in the top percentile of our field. Regardless of our chosen profession, we should all want to excel to become all we were meant to be. There is nothing wrong with success. In fact, I hope that you and I accomplish all of our goals and dreams and live a life of significance while we are on this earth. However, in that process, there will be mistakes and failures. It just goes with the territory.
Think back to when you were first learning to ride a bicycle. Didn’t you fear falling off and getting hurt? I think we all probably had that same experience! Yet we were willing to take the risk in order to try something we had not done before. Seeing the success of others riding their bicycles gave us the courage to move past our fear of failure, get on our own bikes and learn for ourselves. Though we may have failed a few times, we eventually got our balance and learned that skill set; one that became a permanent part of our life. Although I have not ridden a bicycle in a long time, I feel very confident that I could get on one today and start riding. Couldn’t you?
The great baseball player, Yogi Berra, once said, “Losing is a learning experience; it teaches you humility. It teaches you to work harder. It is also a powerful motivator.” I could not agree more! Again, I think I have learned more from my failures and mistakes than perhaps anything else in my life. Experience is a great teacher! Failure has a way of teaching us things that will stay with us and guide us for the rest of our life.
People connect with us better when we share our own failures, too. I cannot tell you how many times I have had someone share with me the fact that they went through a difficult time in their own life. They have told me they were willing to share this with me because they had heard me share some of my own failures and mistakes in one of my talks. Imagine hearing someone stand up and say, “I am a wonderful person. I have never made any mistakes in my life. If you work hard, maybe one day you will be lucky enough to be as great as I am!” See what I mean? No one can identify with that! And besides, only an “arrogant fruitcake” would say something so untrue. When we share our own mistakes, misfortunes and failures with others we become more human and this causes people to be able to identify with us and learn from our mistakes as well.
I once saw a television special about Walt Disney. He made a comment that touched me very deeply. He said, “Everyone should experience a big failure early in life!” He, himself, went bankrupt several times and experienced a nervous breakdown. His life was indeed difficult. However, no one remembers Walt Disney as a failure. It was what he learned through his failures that allowed him to create both Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida. Walt Disney pursued his dreams in spite of his set-backs has helped multitudes of families have a wonderful experience at one of his amusement parks.
So, this week, let me encourage you to not be upset over losing or failing in any area of life. Your past failures are your friends trying to take you where you need to be in life. Remember that a stumbling block can become a stepping stone if you choose to let it. I know you will!
Tip: Sometimes you win; sometimes you learn!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm