The Richmond Register

September 14, 2013

‘Failure’ never has to be permanent

By Jennifer Napier
Special to the Register

RICHMOND — Consider the fact that a teenager dropped out of high school at age 16 to join the Army, but was rejected because he was underage.

As our young man became an adult, he got a job as a newspaper artist, but was fired by the editor because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”

Our young man then decided to start a commercial artist business. It quickly failed.

Unwilling to give up, he began another business, this time in animation. The business grew and his studio was gaining in popularity, but the business went bankrupt because our young man was unable to successfully manage the business’ money.

He persevered and moved to California to start another animation studio. Because of poor business oversight, he lost the rights to a popular animated character, along with all but one of his staff members in a heated trademark dispute.

Does he sound like failure to you?

The word failure, however, was not a term in this man’s vocabulary.

Our aspiring entrepreneur was determined and learned from his mistakes as he moved forward. He was a man on a mission and would never allow anyone to shatter his dreams. The multiple times he endured harsh trials and failed businesses only fueled his desire to succeed even more.

So, who was our high school dropout, rejected wannabe soldier and failed entrepreneur?

He was none other than Walt Disney. He dared to dream the impossible. His animated movies, fantasy theme parks and business name have only grown in popularity since his passing in 1966.

Why has our society taken the definition of failure and turned it into a permanently negative and demoralizing term?

To fail simply means that the initial attempt was unsuccessful. Therefore, additional attempts or revised strategies must be pursued until success is reached.

There is a work ethic and a motivation that is learned only by allowing individuals to fail.

Perseverance, determination, problem solving, follow-through and many other skills cannot be taught. They must be experienced through failures and unsuccessful attempts.

Thomas Edison was quoted as saying he knew of 9,000 ways an electric light bulb would not work. His most famous quote may be: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

How will America’s children and future workforce achieve success when there is a strong belief that no one should fail or no one should be left behind? How will new products, new services and new jobs get created if individuals fear failure? How do we embrace failure?

A person only truly fails when they become consumed with excuses rather than actions, and self-pity rather than vision and determination. John Burroughs is quoted as saying “A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.” Failure only occur when you stop trying. Talk to any successful individual and you’ll find out that they are proud of their failures, for that is where they learned to persevere and achieve.

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