Saturday, October 1, 2016

When failure leads to giant success


This week, I saw a small movie that may have a big influence on my life.

The movie was Walt Before Mickey, a depiction of the life of Walter Elias Disney before his big break.  The film narrated that Walt was refused enlistment by the army because we was too young to fight.  If such rejection didn’t happen, he could have died an obscure death in the trenches and we would have not known the magical world that he created.

Disney went bankrupt at least two times. He was exploited by some of his partners and was abandoned by many of his employees. The movie showed him eating from a trash can, sharing the spoiled sandwich with his pet mouse. It may have been an exaggeration but I know people who actually scavenged for food before hitting the big time.

His rags to greatness story is not an isolated one. Virtually all great achievers were great failures in the beginning.

J.K Rowling, creator of Harry Potter, was depressed, divorced and dependent on welfare.  Twelve publications rejected her Harry Potter manuscript.

Shaquille O’Neal couldn’t jump.  ( But if you’re 7’1”, why do you need to jump ? )

According to the Wanderlust Worker website, Ophrah Winfrey was fired because she was “unfit for television. “ Earlier in life she was very poor and was sexually abused.

Even Steve Jobs was fired by the very company that he built.

This list is endless.

A failure is like a train stop. We pause on our journey to choose to go on, turn back, or change direction.  But in this decision point, we have to reflect, think hard, and have faith.

We can keep going on like Ms. Rowling who exhausted the list of publishers.  Or we can change tracks like Katy Perry who was unsuccessful as a gospel singer before she turned to pop.

Preacher Bo Sanchez, who failed in all his food businesses, counsels us to quit an unpromising project if it’s not even our main interest.  He advises us to follow our true passion and find a niche there.

Jim Collins, in the book Good to Great, suggested that companies  can find their best place in that spot where these three circles meet : What we are passionate about ; what we are the best in the world at ; what drives our economic engine. I believe this Venn diagram applies to individuals, too.

The best thing to do in a series of failures is to accumulate knowledge. Thomas Edison , inventor of the electric bulb, said  he became wiser after having known 9,000 ways that won’t work.

Pia Wurtzbach became Bb. Pilipinas ( Miss Philippines ) after a third try and eventually won the Miss Universe crown. She admitted that the experience in all those pageants helped give her confidence in the most important contest of her life.

But before joining a beauty competition, she was an actress who didn’t make it really big. Had she become a superstar, she may have not tried beauty contests at all.  So, we may say that we are meant to fail in certain endeavors so we find our way to greater things.

I have a similar story. ( No, I didn’t join a beauty contest. ) I was not promoted to the top position in my ad agency. When an offer from a media company came along, it was easy for me to accept it.  I am exceptionally grateful for my over 20 years in advertising. But it is in the media company where I can always do what I had always wanted to do.

If you feel you are failing now, I can assure you that your success is just a matter of time. If you want  the kind of success that’s overwhelming, just never doubt.

I suggest that we should not count our failures as rejections by this world. Instead, we could look at them as a process of smoothening or sharpening. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. “

When we were going through the initiation rites of our fraternity, we were told to recite a poem when we were on the verge of breaking down. The last lines of the verse :

            And you can never tell how close you are,
            It might be near when it seems afar;
            So, stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit-
            It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.



Tip of the week

One of the most important tools I have in the office is the Apple iPad. With it I can type manuscripts, email,  write a journal, paint, draw storyboards, compose music, do social media, among many other things. Among cellphones, my favorite is the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 because it comes with a big screen and a stylus that I can write random notes with.


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