The Benefits of Failure

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Whenever you fail at something you should remind yourself of this – you didn’t actually lose anything.  If you apply for a job, for example, and don’t get it, you didn’t lose the job, because you never had it to begin with.  You will not get far in life if you try to avoid failure.  Babe Ruth struck out more often than he hit home runs, but few remember the strike outs.  Michael Jordon once said, “I’ve failed over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed.”

Sara Blakely (picture above), the founder of Spanx, a now widely successful undergarment corporation, was a door-to-door fax machine sales woman for many years.  In an interview with Fareed Zakaria (link below), she explained that this taught her how to handle rejection.  Growing up, her family celebrated rejection.  If you look around you, and really look deep, you begin to realize that nobody is immune to failure, but those who succeed do not fear it.  A failure (person) is one who allows failure (event) to become who they are, rather than a learning experience.

As I write this, I must practice what I preach.  Right now, I have left my teaching positions in Florida to pursue a PhD in TN.  This was a risky decision, and it has been years since I’ve looked for a job.  I have 3 PhD applications out there and 1 has already rejected me.  I did not lose anything, however, because I never had an offer from them in the first place.  More importantly I only need 1 of them to say “yes”, and there’s two to go.  Even if all of them reject me, I have a backup plan.  I could also try again next year.  I am also applying to new adjunct positions, and have yet to hear back from any of them.  If I do not apply for fear of rejection, I will never know.  If I apply and get rejected, I’ve lost nothing, but at least know that these are not options for me.  I don’t know what’s ahead of me, but I do know that every failure brings me closer to success.  I also remember that I’ve been through much worse, and only overcame it with determination.

When you’re trying to succeed out there, remember that everyone fails, but not everyone is a failure.  With the right attitude, not only can you say that a failure costs you nothing, but it is even a small step forward.  As you look at all the possibilities out there, most of them are failures, but you only need a few, or maybe just one success.  A few successes are mixed into all those failures out there, and it’s your job to find it.  Every failure you get out of the way brings you closer.  So go out there, and see how many failures you can knock out!

This is only the first half of the interview:

http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2013/08/24/sara-blakely-spanx-and-the-american-dream/

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