“Success is going from failure to failure without the loss of enthusiasm” Winston Churchill
How do you turn a perceived failure into success?
By meeting a Guy Named Jack!!!
Let me explain and start by saying that everyone has had times in their life where they’ve felt like a failure, didn’t measure up, or were disappointed in an outcome; including myself. This actually happened to me recently at a public speaking contest I had been nominated for and entered. It was an honor just to be nominated and compete in this International Speech Competition. This was my first “speech competition,” per se. All my prior engagements were always scheduled, planned and strictly professional. I really enjoy the process of writing speeches, workshops, training’s and the creative process that goes into putting them together. To be honest my only expectation was to show up, have a good showing while having some fun.
Then I met Jack! Jack was an interesting fella to say the least. While we waited to hear instructions I shook the other contestants hand, Jack being one of them. I simply asked how many of them had previously been in competitions. Before anyone could answer Jack stuck his chest out and proclaimed “I have been in several, I own these things but don’t worry it’ll be alright.” I tried to contain a chuckle wondering why Jack felt the need to comfort the rest of the field; but it was funny to say the least. Jack was not the most humble of gentleman and proceeded to tell everyone that he had a contingency of followers that accompanied him to the event. I must admit my competitive juices began to flow a little when Jack entered stage left but it was all in good fun.
The competition began and the contestants gave their speeches. My speech was an inspirational speech titled “Lean on Me,” where I highlighted the importance of team in my personal life. As I left the stage, the president of the competition pulled me aside, with tears in her eyes, telling me how touched she was by my story. It was a great experience and I was grateful for the opportunity to inspire at least one person in the room that night. While the competition continued many of the participants and audience members came up and told me how touched they were by the speech as well. Then, the moment we had all been waiting for, the results were in and the winner of the competition is………..Jack!!! Although I was a little disappointed in the outcome, I accepted the second place trophy, shook Jack’s hand and congratulated him on the win. I still left feeling pretty good about the experience and my performance.
Until two weeks later. Thats when I saw Jack again. This time I was at another contest to support a friend in a different competition. As I walked in the room, I saw through my periphery vision none other than Jack. At some point Jack made a b-line to me, interrupted a conversation I was having to make sure he came up and said………”What is your name again.” I simply told him my name and made sure to congratulate him again on advancing.
As I left that night, my competitiveness had a sudden flashback to my days of playing college basketball. It was a nice moment, remembering my years of playing hoops and the motivation to outperform your opponent. As I’ve matured and my days of playing basketball have lessened the motivation has changed. I am still very motivated and vigorously follow my passions and goals. However, it now usually comes from an intrinsic place, inside of me; where I now want to help solve a problem or help someone for a greater good. This gives me great personal gratification and truly does the soul good . But Jack helped me tap into that extrinsic motivation, and I realized that the single most important principle that can turn perceived failure to success is motivation!
Motivation is an interesting thing. It is defined as “the process that initiates, guides and maintains goal-oriented behaviors.” Motivation is what causes us to act, whether it is getting to work early to complete an assignment or reading a book to gain knowledge. Studies have identified three major components of motivation:
- Activation– the decision to initiate a behavior.
- Persistence– the continued effort towards a goal despite the obstacles that may exist
- Intensity– The concentration and vigor one goes about into pursuing a goal
This is what Jack helped me with and can help us all with; find out what truly motivates you! What are your goals?
My activation was entering the competition to follow my dreams and passion and continuing on this path.
What is yours? Do you have a goal to go to school, change careers, start a family? ACTIVATE!
Whatever your goals may be (writing a book, changing careers, following your dreams), be PERSISTENT!
Lastly, go after your passion with INTENSITY and vigor. If you don’t believe in yourself and your goals, no one will.
This experience has also reminded me that what we sometimes perceive as failures, often times, is our greatest stepping stone. Learning experiences that come from defeat isn’t failure at all, it’s the motivation we sometimes need to bring about a better perspective. A setback is often a set up, for a comeback; to something even bigger and more rewarding.
Michael Jordan was cut by his high school team as a freshman. He has told the story many times, citing the coach that cut him and the experience of not making the team as the reason he worked so hard to be great. Albert Einstein couldn’t speak until he was 4 years old and his teachers said he wouldn’t amount to anything. Oprah Winfrey was demoted from her job as a news anchor and told she wasn’t fit for TV. Steve Jobs was fired by the company he helped create at age 30. The list goes on. All of these success stories have this one thing in common: they all turned perceived failure to success and used it as motivation to fuel their desire to be great. They ran into their own Jack!
We all have an opportunity to do the same, to fuel our own desire to be great. So the next time life presents you with what you perceive as a failure, an undesirable outcome or challenge, don’t allow it to deter you. Find JACK and get to know him!