FAILING FORWARD

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Poster source:  www.singleblack.org  In every individual lies some fire deep within; the h...


Poster source: www.singleblack.org 

In every individual lies some fire deep within; the hunger, the flaming urge, the feisty desire to be something…to become someone, and everyone deserves to make something of themselves. The road to becoming what and who you desire to be in life is however, littered with people who have failed before you. Often, it is easy to focus on those who failed before you rather than keep your eyes on the journey ahead. “If they failed, how am I sure that I won’t?” We often ask ourselves out of fear. Besides, when people fail at something, according to Will Smith they are inclined to think that no one else can achieve the same thing. They often become bitter; they make it their life’s mission to make sure that everyone else fails. They are the naysayers. 

They will shout into your ears time and again that whatever is it you are pursuing is impossible, and often, they make very convincing arguments; after all, they have been there and done that…and failed. So who are you to try? Except, we are all different. While they may have stopped and accepted their fate as failures, you don’t have to. The difference between so called “failures” so to speak, and those who succeed in life are the willingness and attitude to make failure an important part of success. As a matter of fact, someone who may be considered as a failure is the person who has not succeeded…YET.  There is no guarantee that they will not succeed eventually if they keep trying, but that depends on how they perceive themselves. The world outside you may shout and blame all they care, if you can snuff out the noise and focus on your goal by seeking out means of getting to your desired destination, there is a high chance that you will succeed. So I say to you in the words of John C. Maxwell, fail early in life, fail often and fail forward


While this may sound contradictory, it remains a key piece of the success puzzle. Understanding and embracing what failure really means sets you on the path to conquering it and well on your way to genuine and meaningful success. From a Nigerian perspective, people like to measure their successes against those around them. That is not to say that other cultures do not do the same thing, but it seems quite prominent amongst we Nigerians. Often we hear in Naija, “My child is this, my child is that,” amongst parents who parade their children’s achievements proudly among their peers. Amongst Igbos, if you are not married by a certain age or thinking of building a house in the village (or already building one) by a certain age, you are very likely to be considered a failure. Some may say it quietly behind your back, but if the same trend continues, it is only a matter of time before the village drunk yells it to your face. 

Only very few are strong willed enough to listen to all that and not lose sight of who they really are. Soon, they begin to believe what they hear; “Education is not really paying off for you. Why don’t you come home to the village and open up a small kiosk. Okeke is making a lot of money you know?” Okeke being the proprietor of the village kiosk and a lot of money in this case amounts to a few thousands. Others would suggest, “How about becoming a bricklayer, a mechanic, a carpenter or something else. You are not getting any younger.” Or, “This line of business you are into is not paying off. Won’t you consider switching?” While mechanics, bricklayers and carpenters are noble professions in their own right, in the Nigerian economy, you have to be in an entirely different league to blast yourself and your family across the poverty line, largely because we do not value tradesmen that much in our country.

Anyways, many people heed the words that pierce their ears every day and ditch their dreams. “After all, how sure am I that I can get a job in this economy?” Many rationalize and shelve their dreams not knowing that the fact that you have not succeeded yet does not mean that you will not or never succeed. A failure, if at all there is anything like that is a success waiting to happen; if only they can keep trying. As a matter of fact, to consider someone a failure is a rather unfair characterization. Failure is an event, not a person (according to John Maxwell). The ability to make this distinction is what will truly give you the faith, perspective and belief to steer your life beyond your immediate condition. For the sake of clarity, let’s take a look at some people who were once considered failures.

Michael Jordan: Perhaps the greatest player to have every played basketball; he was cut from his secondary school team. He went home, locked himself in his room and cried. Jordan later won six (6) NBA championships, voted the most valuable player in the league five (5) times and an NBA all-star four (4) times. At the point when he was dropped from his secondary school team, he could have accepted that he was a failure; not good enough! On the contrary, he accepted failure as an important component of the journey to success early enough and soldiered on. He failed forward.

Albert Einstein: Revered as one of the greatest scientists to have ever graced our planet. He did not speak until he was four years old and his teachers said he would never amount to anything.  Well, Einstein won the Nobel Prize in Physics!!! About 199 people have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics ever. This means that Einstein belonged to a select few; a group of geniuses that amount to about 0.00003% of the world population today.

Oprah Winfrey: In case you did not know, Oprah was demoted from her job as a news anchor on TV, simply because she was considered UNFIT FOR TELEVISION!!! Her employers at the time felt she lacked the looks, size and shape to make it big on TV. Well, Oprah went on to anchor one of the greatest talk shows ever in the history of TV for years, and is considered the most influential woman in the world.

Walt Disney: The man who created Mickey Mouse, a co-founder of The Walt Disney Company, a revered cartoonist, a multi-talented film producer, voice actor, animator, entrepreneur, and a Hollywood icon and mogul was once fired from a newspaper job for lack of original ideas and imagination. Would you believe that? Did I mention that he went on to win twenty (22) Academy Awards (Oscars).

Lionel Messi: You won’t believe this; Messi was dropped from his team at the age of eleven (11) after being diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency that left him small in stature relative to his peers. Well, if you are a football fan like me, you’d be laughing at this now, knowing that the guy is a genius with the ball at his feet. He was once considered a failure too, except, he did not think so. Messi is the only player to have won the World Footballer of the year award four (4) times, and he won them all consecutively. He has won three (3) European golden boots, seven (7) La Liga titles, Three (3) Copa Del Rey, holds the Guinness World Records for most goals scored in a La Liga (289), most goals in a La Liga season, a calendar year , a Champions League match (5), and the list continues.

Steve Jobs: The father of Apps was not always the shining, brilliant executive and business man that we knew before his passing. At the age of thirty, Jobs was unfairly fired from the company he started, leaving him depressed and shattered. He later went on to found Apple computers, the eleventh biggest company in the world today.

Eminem: He dropped out of high school, struggled with drugs and came close to taking his life in a failed suicide attempt. Eminem has won thirteen (13) Grammy awards and has sold over ninety million (90, 00000) albums worldwide. 

The Beatles: The highly successful group was originally rejected by a recording studio saying “We don’t like their sound…they have no future in show business.” The Beatles remain the most commercially successful band in the history of music. 

Dr. Seuss: The famous children’s author did not always have it easy. His first book was rejected by twenty seven (27) publishers. He is to date, the bestselling children’s author in history.

I have deliberately left out the story of Abraham Lincoln because most of us have heard it several times. Perhaps, I should have included Buhari, our current president and his travails at the polls….and most of all, his persistence. If you have never failed, you have probably never tried anything! Don’t think of failure, think of the opportunities you miss when you don’t try at all. If you do strive towards your goals in life, expect failure…many failures, but remember, you are not a failure. Failure is an event, not a person (certainly not you). Fail all you can but learn from it, pick yourself up and match forward. Be it in business, trades, or in the academic world, there are no easy roads in life. Your ability to dig yourself out of the pit is your most vital asset. Don’t let failure or fear of it stop you from fulfilling your God-given potential. Remember, it is not all about money, but more about living out your true potential; doing what you love, enjoying it; enriching your world and the people in it!

This article was written by:

Victor Chinoo


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