There’s this relatively young man whose life seems to be perfect. He is the CEO of a large corporation, drives the best cars, travel overseas like he’s going next door and he has the best things in life. You are looking up to him, hoping that one day in the not so distant future you can be like him. You’re confident you can achieve this because he has a way of making success look easy, like it happened overnight. Big shocker; it didn’t happen overnight. In fact, his success story is 10 years in the making.
Many people find themselves in this illusionary pursuit. Why? It is because the successful people they look up to don’t tell them the complete truth about how they got to where they are. Except for scammers and fraudsters, everybody has experienced failure in one form or the other. In fact these fraudsters too have experienced failure before they made that big hit. So why are we so afraid of talking about our failures? As a successful person, you mislead people when you don’t tell them of the times when things were not so rosy or when you omit the fact that for two years you were a squatter and had to soak garri for days on end.
I always make sure I share my full story with people, especially those that see me as their role model. It’s not because I want a rush of pity induced emotions from them. No. I want them to learn from my mistakes and know that good things require hard work; that’s if you want them to last permanently. There was this teenager a few years back that thought my life was perfect and she wanted to be like me by all means. I was doing well in school and active in ministry as well. I sat her down one day to let her know that before my distinction in law school (which was totally as a result of God’s favour), there was a time I failed woefully in an exam. It was many years ago but it’s still part of my story. That was the first time I ever failed in school and it made me resolve never to fail again. I never did. I had to work hard to sustain my good grades.
When I’m with my mentors and role models, I love hearing about their failures. My dad would always tell my brother and I the times he had to see himself through University by tutoring his seniors. Before he became the CEO, he was a clerk; at the very bottom of the ranks. With hard work and persistence, he rose to become the CEO of the company. When he told these stories, I knew in my mind that anything is possible. Then I started reading about Mary Kay, Steven Covey, Warren Buffet and many other successful people and there was a common side to their stories; a chapter or two on failure.
Failure is not the end of the world. It just shows you that the path you’re on is not the right one and you need to change direction. It’s not an excuse to give up but a reason to be re-energised. Everytime I have failed, I have asked myself why that failure occurred. What did I miss? I learn from my failures, pick myself up and move on. Let nobody blind you with a sweet story of success. It’s either they are hiding something or that success is not legit.
Embrace failure but don’t be consumed by it. Learn from it and when you eventually succeed, help others to also learn from your failure.
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