Success and failure are two halves of the same coin.
Some of the biggest successes have started out, or been perceived by some, as failures. I ascribe to the philosophies of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford…
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
~ Thomas Edison
Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.
And of course, the modern day sages – Kelly Clarkson and Chumbawamba:
Kelly Clarkson sings:
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Then there’s my theme song that iconic Tub-thumping by Chumbawamba:
I get knocked down, but I get up again, nothing’s gonna keep me down.
Why those? Because I believe we all have the ability to learn from our environment – to excel – and here’s why…
Lessons from childhood
As the oldest of seven children whose father was transferred every eighteen months for his job – we never took vacations, we just moved – I became quite adept at reinventing myself; sometimes for the better, others, not so much.
Always being new could be used against me.
Example: One schoolmate in a power struggle with a longtime friend – I was used as leverage to bring them back into line and then promptly dropped when the desired outcome was achieved.
And during those crucial mid teenage years, the outsider because I was not from the small town community in Washington – a tipping point in my self-worth, which almost ended in suicide.
By the time I reached my junior year in high school, the moves stopped and I ended up going to one school for two years in a row – something that had never happened before – and I became very morose (yep – sad…). An insightful counselor sat me down and explained that it was time to quit running away. I was going to have to stay and face my demons – there was no more “get out of jail free” card.
Through it all, I dreamed, I imagined that I could be powerful, that I could achieve the goals I knew were inside of me; to have the experiences that I had read about – I KNEW that was my future – I just didn’t know how I was going to get there.
A turning point
When I was seventeen, I joined the USO right out of high school.
It was during the Vietnam War and I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. The protests against the war staged at UC Berkeley were on the nightly news – along with others on American college campuses.
Not such a popular choice, but I had watched those old movies about the USO during World War Two and just HAD to do it.
Good choice – the driver of the USO bus from Hamilton Air Force Base attended my first dance. We have been married for almost 48 years so far and he had to get pneumonia for that to happen – a story for another time.
What was that drive to go against mind-set of that time?
Even when I was harassed for being in the USO – you’re supporting the war – it was yelled. No I quietly answered back: I’m supporting the service men. I wanted their last memory to be of someone who cared about them, who smiled and listened to their stories about their girls back home and how I reminded them of their sister. Some of them, I knew, would never come home again, some would come home badly injured – physically, spiritually and mentally – and I had it in my power to do something.
And so began my quest to learn the ability to adapt to change which would allow me to survive, succeed and thrive. That quest took me to one of my biggest challenge yet – Saudi Arabia.
Someone once asked: “How would you know when you had completed your life’s mission?”
The answer was: “If you’re still alive, you haven’t.”
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