There is a thing that Les Brown, one of my favorite speakers, says. When referring to his health journey and his battle with the temptation of sweet potato pie he says this, “I have lost 22 pounds, hundreds of times.” I think a lot of us can relate to that statement. What it means is that he lost the weight and then gained it back. Then he had to refocus and get back at it. Life is like that in many ways. Take getting in shape for example. Another speaker and author I admire a great deal is David Goggins. In his quest to go from 297 pounds to 185 and become a Navy seal he had a lot of training to do. On the first day he decided to run four miles. Being someone who weighs almost 300 pounds and didn’t do much cardio, you can imagine how this went. He ran a quarter of a mile, stopped turned around and walked back home. When he got there he sat on the couch and cried. It is ok to feel sorry for ourselves…for a little while. The next day he tried again with similar results. At this point many people would give up. That would be understandable. He did something different. He changed the plan and not the goal. He said to himself, “Ok, I cannot run. What can I do?” He began to ride a bike. Then he added swimming. Soon he lost some wait and was able to run a mile, then three, then six. Now he is one of the best ultra marathon runners there is.
Whether it is someone like Les Brown, David Goggins or Thomas Edison who went through countless experiments to invent the lightbulb, they all have one thing in common. What is that trait that allowed all of these men to end up a success when life would have had them believe they were destined to fail? The didn’t give up. The stayed focused on the goal. Failure is only permanent if we give up. If we don’t, failure serves as a teacher. It can tell us the way we are going about something isn’t working. That doesn’t mean the goal can’t be reached. All that it means is we have to adjust our plan. Often, even mistakes can be valuable. There is the rather well known story about how post-it notes were developed. The inventor was working on creating an adhesive that would last forever. He obviously failed in that endeavor, but look what it created!
Next time it feels as if you are failing at something in life, remember it might just be the plan that needs changing and not the goal. Look for the lessons in the failure and start again only more well-informed.