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Success in spite of and perhaps because of trials


Success after trialsThe New Testament book of James says “Count it all joy when you encounter various trials.”  It goes on to say that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

I’ll confess that I’m not always joyful in the midst of trials and tribulations, whether business or personal,  but I have learned the value of them.

The picture is my son Trey and me after hiking out the Bright Angel trail from the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.  A joyful, although for me, trying hike.  But well worth the reward once accomplished.

Einstein flunked out of school, failed his college entrance exam, and was told he lacked the mental abilities to be a physicist.  Thomas Edison was considered “slow” by his teachers,  and failed thousands of times before coming up with the electric light bulb.

Harlan Sanders, of KFC fame, had a failed restaurant and was rejected over one thousand times when trying to get a franchise going.  He eventually did succeed, and built a successful restaurant chain.

The annals of business are replete with such stories, in fact, it’s more the norm than you might think.  Bill Gates had a failed company that was trying to use sell compiled  traffic data before founding Microsoft.

The trick is to learn from your failures.

In my career, I learned much more from my failures than I ever did from success.  It’s just how we’re wired.

John Maxwell wrote “Failing Forward” and he lists seven principles for learning from failure.

  1. Reject Rejection:  Do not allow your self worth to be determined by external events.  Believe in yourself.
  2. Don’t Point Fingers:  Blaming others for your failures is a sure fire way to fail backwards and learn nothing from the experience.   If I am the problem, then I am the solution.
  3. See Failure as Temporary:  You can either wallow in failure, or you can see it in perspective as a temporary setback.
  4. Set Realistic Expectations:  Unrealistic goals doom people to failure.
  5. Focus on Strengths:  It’s very tempting to concentrate on your weaknesses.  But, it’s much better to focus and build on your strengths.
  6. Vary your approaches to achievement: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Harlan Sanders, and a number of other successful people did not achieve great success in their first ventures.  Don’t put yourself in too small a box.
  7. Bounce Back:  When dealing with failures, successful people have short memories.   It’s fine to rehash and learn from failure, but it’s not fine to dwell on it.  Look forward.