Lessons for Living
The Secret of Success

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Are you willing to fail to become a success?




Welcome to Lessons for Living.

This week's lesson is on "The Secret of Success."

We live in an achievement and success oriented world where being a winner is greatly rewarded. While we admire successful people and want to be like them, we often don’t want to pay the price of succeeding. It can seem much too high. You see the price of success is — failure. To succeed you must try something. You must make an effort of some sort, and your effort may fail. You have to risk failure to succeed. Paradoxically, failure is therefore the secret of success. The price of success and the secret of success are the same. Are you willing to be a failure in order to become successful?

Many times we are not willing to fail. Failure can be embarrassing. Others might laugh at us. Self-esteem could plummet. In our perfectionistic culture, failure is not well tolerated. We are often taught to avoid it at all costs. Have you ever tried to avoid failure? Have you ever quit something you were not good at rather than fail?

Maybe it was learning to dance, play tennis, or type? You couldn’t do it right so you quit. How about the experience of learning to ride a bicycle? How do you learn to ride a bike? You begin by falling off. Each time you fall you have the opportunity to learn something. Fall off and get back up enough times, and you will learn to ride. Suppose, however, you quit after the first fall saying, "I just can’t do it." You will be right. You won’t learn because you will not allow yourself to go through the failure experience.

Success comes from perseverance. Once you begin something, you must stick to the task. In a recent interview the successful actor Harrison Ford said, "I learned early on that success was tied to not giving up." He was talking about persistence. You too must be persistent to be successful. Be persistent even in the face of failure or, perhaps, especially in the face of failure. Keep at the task until you get it right. Seen from the proper perspective, failure is postponed success — but this is true only if you don’t quit. Winston Churchill said that, "Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." Do you have such enthusiasm? Are you willing to practice the secret of success? Are you willing to fail?

Today look around and see what challenges you can undertake. Find something difficult and try it. If you fail, remember, when you fail always fail forward. Learn to do this consistently and your life will begin to be more successful.

2000 Daniel H. Johnston. All Rights Reserved.

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