“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”
– Winston Churchill
Have you ever wondered why nobody posts pictures or stories about their failures on Facebook, Instagram or other social media?
Posts and updates on social media are almost always a snapshot of something which on its surface looks fun, positive or worthy of admiration.
The aim of course is to get as many ‘likes’ as possible to feed our egos. There is no “thumbs down’ icon on Facebook!
Not only is this an artificial reflection of real life, it is counterproductive and even dangerous.
Because it sends the message that if your life is not represented by glossy and often edited pictures of perfect moments as they appear online, your life sucks and you’re a lonely loser.
Wrong! On the contrary!
If your life or any part of it is worth putting online in any forum it needs to be real. If it’s not it isn’t you.
And being real means telling the full story. That means it needs to include failure.
One of the truisms of human achievement is that no great success was ever achieved without great failure. They are inherently related and entirely complimentary.
If you need more convincing check out Ekaterina Walter’s article in Forbes – 30 Powerful Quotes on Failure or John Maxwell‘s experience advising world leaders, athletes and celebrities on the topic which he condenses into his book, “Failing Forward.”
A good example of failure can be found by examining the life story of one of the most successful and revered figures of the twentieth century. Sir Winston Churchill.
Churchill is widely credited of having been one of the key leaders who helped turn the tide of the Second World War against the Nazi regime culminating in the latter’s ultimate defeat.
However, when Churchill was elected prime minister in 1940 he was already in in mid-60s. While he had been involved in politics for many years he had certainly not attained the reputation of a great leader.
In fact, until then, his life and career was characterised more by failure, some of it catastrophic and hugely damaging to his reputation, than success.
Just a few of Churchill’s failures:
- Achieved poor grades at school
- Failed entrance exam to the Royal Military Academy twice
- Proposed to two women (before meeting his future wife Clementine) and was rejected both times
- Lost his cabinet position after the disastrous Gallipoli campaign in WW1
- Oversaw the economically disastrous return to the Gold Standard in 1924 which led to largescale unemployment and inflation
- Lost 5 political elections
Churchill also had personal challenges in his life. He was born with a lisp and suffered from depression.
The rest of his story?
- Elected Prime Minister in 1940
- Famed for his inspiring speeches
- Won the Nobel Prize in literature
- Accomplished painter
- Regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the 20th century