Keys to Moving Beyond Past Failures
|October 22, 2010||Posted by Roshawn Watson under Uncategorized|
By: Roshawn Watson
Do you believe in second chances?
I sure do. It’s always nice to hit the ball out of the park on the first try, but sometimes a second swing is required. All too often, we become so demoralized from initial failure that we give up while on the cusp of breakthroughs. Successful implementation of one idea can completely revolutionize your fortune. Do not allow past failures to rob you of tomorrow’s victory.
Leaving the Past in the Past
I know we’re tough, but sometimes the past not only affects us, it controls us. It’s is no coincidence that psychologists often focus on the underlying past events influencing present behavior. About five years ago, I was discussing investing with a friend. She told me that her father used to be a diligent investor; however, he presently keeps his money in savings accounts. I asked her why (he wasn’t that old), and she said it was because he lost money once. Now, her dad can obviously do what he wants to do, and I’m sure the recent (2008 through March 2009) stock market dip only confirmed his suspicions. However, it is quite depressing to be a saver right now. As a saver, he is likely ignoring (or at least mentally suppressing) the fact that inflation and taxes are eroding any return he is getting. Instead of developing an investing strategy that accounted for his lower risk tolerance, he decided to leave the market altogether because of a bad experience. He is successfully failing to fail. To this day, that bad experience defines him and restricts his ability to grow his wealth.
Personally, I think the challenge is keeping the past in its context. It’s not a matter of denying what happened but rather the lens with which we view our past shortcomings that often determines their impact on us. I remember opening my first C.D. account several years ago. I went to a financial workshop at a business school. After it was over, I decided to tell the facilitator what I was doing. To be honest, I was a little proud of myself and thought she would be too. She was proud of me…until I told her the interest rate that I was receiving, a whopping 1.2%. Her expression was classic. She gave me a conciliatory “Well, at least you are trying…” This had the undertone of “but you will certainly have to do better.” She was right, and I am glad that I used that experience to become a better steward of my resources instead of allowing it to turn me off from saving and investing.
Success Not As It Seems
We often don’t realize what’s involved in someone’s success equation. If you listen to the details of someone’s journey, you might be quite surprised. Earlier this week, I shared how Dave Ramsey was an overleveraged multi-millionaire who went bankrupt in the eighties but has rebuilt his fortune. Despite his popularity, many are unfamiliar with his struggle. He didn’t allow his failure to stop him from becoming much more successful than before the setback.
I was recently listening to Peter J. Daniels, an internationally known speaker, philanthropist, and businessman. Some have estimated his fortune as near a billion. Many would be surprised to know that he started as a sickly, illiterate bricklayer. Through the years, he has also had challenges in his businesses as well, yet he rose above them. The point is that your past failures (or achievements) are not necessarily a predictor of the future. For example, if you look through his life, you will find that your qualifications and potential for success are greater than his were when he started his businesses. This supports my belief that if you learn how to do one thing well and can persevere, you have a genuine potential for extraordinary success.
Remember, Babe Ruth is both the home run king and strikeout king.
Learning From Failures
Some people love learning from their experiences. I’m not one of them. I often find this method too painful and slow. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t look for value (lessons) from mistakes. “Listen to the pain, it’s often trying to tell you something” my mentor used to remind me. It still is very hard to walk through recent mistakes impartially (without getting upset). If you invest everything into a goal, not reaching it affects you. You have to allow yourself time to grieve. The death of a dream is very painful. Let me share with you a revelation that completely changed my outlook on failures a few years ago. It caused me to realize that very few failures are tragic. Additionally, it helped me separate a failing project or task from being a failure. The quote is:
“Men don’t drown by being underwater, they drown by staying underwater.”
In other words, you have to get back up from failure. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by not repeatedly making the same mistake. Thus, you must acquire the wisdom from the misstep. The old saying goes “insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly but expecting a different result.” Don’t allow pride, arrogance, confidence, or pain to cause you to dismiss the lessons you should be learning from your mistakes. I believe it was partly his willingness to own and learn from his mistakes that caused Donald Trump to go from being worth a negative $100 million to an estimated $2.4 billion. Unfortunately, too many of us successfully fail to fail instead of playing until we win.
Dealing With Criticism
Regardless of whether it’s building a business, investing in paper or real estate portfolios, or obtaining a Ph.D, there will be challenges. Critics may deride you, laugh at you, and wish you ill-will, especially if you fail at something. Don’t allow their snide remarks to change your perception about yourself or your abilities. It is easier to throw stones from the sidelines than to achieve something significant. I’m convinced that part of their hostility towards you results from their resenting the fact that you have the guts to achieve what they couldn’t or wouldn’t. Let them tell you the 10 reasons why they think you suck, and know that their opinions cannot hinder your ultimate success. Your struggle is the proof that you have not been conquered. Laugh all the way to the bank my friend. A monument was never built to a critic anyway. Tell every dream-killing troll in your life that they provide limited value at best and are a waste of space at worst. (I kid, it is best to leave the negativity to them)
Adopt your winning posture because it’s time for battle again. Your present victory isn’t dependent on past events, luck, genius or what critics say. Possibilities for you are determined by your capacity to believe. Don’t be a prisoner of your circumstances; create the life you want today!
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Through the Looking Glass
Copyright 2012, Roshawn Watson, Pharm.D., Ph.D. All Rights Reserved.