Failures don’t define who we are — they show us the way to achieve who we want to be.
He was born with a drooping eyelid and paralyzed face resulting in slurred speech due to forceps injury when his mother was delivering him. From a troubled child of divorced parents to selling his dog for $40 just to buy his food, he took some real punches and blows in his acting career just to make it look more real on film, and he still prevails, and went on to win multiple awards in the film industry. This man is Sylvester Stallone of “Rocky” fame.
A man who was told that he only has 2 years to live, he went on to live another 55 years. He suffered from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) — a health condition where his muscles lose their ability to be controlled. This disease gradually paralyzes the patient. He refused to concede to his illness and persevered in his research in physics to make him one of the greatest scientists of all time. This man is Stephen Hawking.
As a child, he did badly in school and ended up being homeschooled by his mother. He lost his ability to hear in one of his ears at the age of 12. He started working at an early age as a newsboy selling newspapers. Despite making 10,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb, he went on to acquire 1,093 patents for his inventions. His famous quote “I didn’t fail 10,000 times; I just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.” This man is Thomas Edison.
Bullied for his stuttering and queer looks during his childhood days, even his school teachers did not think that he could excel, yet he got into Oxford University and went on to obtain his Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering. His dream was to be an actor but his speech deficiency and unassuming looks got him rejected for acting roles. Against all odds, he decided to take his “comedian” looks to a higher level and he went on to create one of the most-loved television characters of all time — “Mr. Bean”. This man is Rowan Atkinson.
Her mother was a white woman who married a black husband. Faced with racial issues after the marriage, including her mother being disowned by her own family, her parents divorced when she was three years old. Gifted with a 5-octave vocal range, she started singing at a very early age. She encountered rejections and rebuffs during her singing career together with a failed marriage and went through a 17-year period of manic depression (bipolar disorder). Despite all these challenges that are posed to her, she went on to receive five Grammy awards and sold over 200 million albums. This woman is Mariah Carey.
Success does not teach us as much as failure does. After every misfortune, a little more grit makes us a little tougher and a little more resilient until one day we not only have reached our goals in life but have also accumulated more grit, strength and resilience along the way.
The above stories are not meant to single out people and treat them as idols or perfect beings. It would be superficial to idolize them. Each of them are just like you and me who have our best performances as well as our worst inadequacies.
They have their fair share of lack but their qualities and traits are exemplary and should be an inspiration for us to realize that what they can achieve, we also can because they are excellent living proof that what they attempted is possible.
We can take a leaf out of their book because if they haven’t attempted what they did, their life story could be a far cry from what they are. They are not to be idols to follow or worship but to be idols for us to study and learn about how they succeed.
Success is achieving what we stepped out to try to achieve. Success can be success in sports, success in school, success in finance (wealth), success in relationships, success in marriage, success in health, success in our career, and even in our hobbies.
Being happy is success too. When we are happy, we feel we have achieved most of what we wanted. We can have prolific wealth, we can have a good career, however we can still be unhappy.
When we are happy, we are motivated. So it is imperative to be happy. Success is too nebulous to call because while we can be successful in one thing, we may not be so in many others. In addition to that, current success and future success are not synonymous.
An Inner Monologue:
Time after it has passed away, opportunities after we have missed the boat, word after it is spoken out, and trust after it is lost — these are things we can’t have back in life after it has passed.
In life, let it be known to others that we don’t know a profound number of things. This rule of thumb applies even more in our workplace. Have the mindset that there is always someone who knows something better than us — and display that mindset to others.
A leader is not someone who is all out to prove that he is on a higher level than his subordinates. A leader is one who is able to lower himself down to the level of his subordinates and still feel incredibly comfortable about it.
A true leader expects others to be better than him as he leads others to excel more than himself.
Work when we still can — because the day will come when we are unable to work.
Show respect to the old when we are young — because the day will come when we are also old.
Extend a helping hand when we can — because the day will come when we also need a helping hand.
Accept others’ mistakes — because the day will come when we will falter and also make mistakes.
Do not be vain and arrogant and always think that we are right — because the day will come when we will be wrong and need to eat humble pie.
If we make life difficult for others, the day will come when someone will also make life difficult for us — and probably even worse.
Supremacy is something that will become fragile over time. There will be some point in life when many others will surpass our supremacy or when our supremacy will just languish by itself.
We all will have our prime years while knowing that when we reach our ripe old age of 70s or 80s we would no longer be at our peak performance. Our brain and our physical body are biological matter that will degenerate as we age.
Nobody is spared this cruelty.
Even if we can’t achieve our goals, we have at least aimed at it.