If failure is not exactly a prerequisite for success, it is very often a precursor. As some wise person once said, ‘show me someone who hasn’t failed and I’ll show you someone who hasn’t tried’.
The famous story of Thomas Edison in his quest to invent the filament that was to eventually power the electric light bulb is repeatedly told in self improvement literature as a model of persistence. It is said that Edison failed ten thousand times before he finally conducted the experiment that eventually led to the production of the first commercially viable incandescent light.
By the way, Edison didn’t invent the light bulb, as so many people seem to think. But when you come to think of his astonishing achievements of which the light bulb is just one, is it any wonder that his opinion of success embraces the concept of repeated failure?
“Many of life’s failures”, said Edison, “are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
And here’s some more failures who didn’t give up:
Bill Gates, the richest man in the world was a Harvard University dropout.
Marilyn Monroe was dropped by 20th Century-Fox because her producer thought she was unattractive and could not act.
Beethoven’s music teacher said of him, “as a composer, he is hopeless”
Michael Jordan was dropped from his high school basketball team because of his “lack of skill”.
Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because, “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas”
John Grisham’s first novel was rejected by sixteen agents and twelve publishing houses.
Henry Ford’s first two automobile companies ended in failure.
Soichiro Honda was turned down by Toyota Motor Corporation for a job as an engineer.
J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected by twelve publishers
Perhaps self-belief is what caused those people listed above to persist and perhaps too, they were not deluded in terms of their own abilities. Being realistic about what you are capable of achieving is no doubt an important factor, but whatever it is you are trying to achieve, you should realise that persistence is also a vital key to success.