Everything That Happens in Your Life Is a Gift — Even Failure

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Many people call it the “F-word.” No, I’m not talking about “fun” or that egregious four-letter word that’s so prominent in today’s culture. I’m talking about failure — Big, Fat Failure. And you know what? It’s a gift. A Big, Fat Gift. Everything that happens in your life is a gift. Even that big event that starts with an F.

Here’s what one highly successful woman had to say about the “F-word:”

“Eventually, we all must come to a decision, for ourselves, about what represents failure. However, the world is very keen to put failure on a schedule, and give you a set of decisive factors, if you allow it. A meager seven years following my graduation, failure had hit me on a grand scale. A fleeting marriage was dissolved, I had no job, [I was] a single parent and as destitute as anyone could possibly be without living on the streets. My parents’ fears for me, and those I had for myself, had finally transpired, and according to the book of failure, I was the biggest.”

The above paragraph is a summation of a speech given by J.K. Rowling at the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association.

The whole purpose of using J.K. Rowling as an example about the importance of failure is to emphasize the point that failure is not unusual. In fact, it is very ordinary and has been misunderstood throughout time.

First, understand that success means something different to different people. However, there is something everyone has in common who has succeeded at what they set out to do: They have failed at one time or another. There is no way to live life without failing from time to time. The only way you won’t fail is if you live so guardedly that you are barely living at all, wherein, you fail by default.

Failure drives us to change. Without it, where would we be today? Thomas Edison produced tons of light bulbs that did not work. If he had not tried again and again, we’d still be using oil lamps and candles for lights.

Winston Churchill once stated, “Success is based on going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

Of course, some individuals are sardonic. These types of people never pick themselves up from failure because they did not grow. Failure courses through everyone’s lives. The SBA states that more than half of small businesses fail during their first five years. However, failed entrepreneurial pursuits are as vital as successful ones.

One specific industry that thrives on failure is technology. There’s hardly anyone over the age of 25 who is not familiar with the late Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple. He was the perfect example of someone who found the “gift” in failure. In his first attempt at a mobile gadget, it failed. It failed badly and he was thrown out of the company. Nonetheless, he has one of the greatest comeback stories of all time.

In your world, what represents failure? Ask yourself that question and really take some time to answer truthfully. Just as Rowling said, we all must come to the decision about what failure and adversity represents in our lives. Our answers to that very important question greatly determines our levels of achievement and what’s in store for us in the future.

The greats, the champions, the best to ever do it view failure and adversity as their friend and something to help them grow and ignite their creativity and desire to be the absolute best.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Why It’s Vital That You Plan Your Life

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Most people would rather plan their next vacation destination or what they are going to buy during their next trip to the mall rather than their own lives. Many executives, entrepreneurs and business owners would rather build their businesses than devote time and energy into planning their lives.

Planning your life must happen if you want to win at the long game, 20 or 50 years from now. Planning your life is all about finding out who you are as a person, what makes you tick, what your values are and what deeply satisfies your soul.

After my keynote presentation a few weeks back for a sales organization, I had a lengthy conversation with one of the national sales leaders and he expressed his sincere gratitude for the wake-up call I had given him when I was on stage. At first I was unsure what he was referring to, but then he went on to say, “I have worked and planned 30 years to get where I am now and not one hour went towards planning my own life. Everyone from the outside views me as a major success, but something deep inside feels missing.”

This happens because what we think will give us instant gratification, things such as making more money, landing the big promotion, purchasing our dream cars or where we are going to go for the next big vacation means absolutely nothing if we don’t know who we are as a person, what we really want out of life and what our values and priorities are.

The belief that taking the time to plan life and get serious about what’s meaningful is a waste of time will eventually eat you alive and leave you unhappy. You have to get your inner life right before your outer life is right.

Just because you may make a lot of money, have an excellent career or drive a nice car doesn’t mean anything in the long term. It may temporarily put a smile on your face and make you feel good, but without planning your own life first, it will leave you empty and searching for the meaning that has been missing for so long as life continually goes on and the older you get.

Every single one of us needs meaning. Plan your life and then translate that over to building your career. Don’t let life pass you by.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com