Failure: The Stepping Stone To Greater Things

By Joy Haney

“But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not” (Luke 22:32). Jesus knew Peter was going to fail Him, but He was more concerned about his faith than his failure. Peter did fail and wept bitterly, but he did not give in to self-pity and defeat. Instead he strengthened his faith and became a mighty apostle in God’s kingdom.

Failure does not mean that all is lost or that life is over. It just signifies that one part of life’s venture is finished, but a whole new future is waiting for those who just get up and start over. It is now time for new plans and schemes or even a polishing of old dreams. Failure can be the best thing that ever happened, for it is through tears and hardship that one can see further that’s when the bright lights dim his vision. There is always tomorrow, always a fresh start, always a new day in which to look forward.

When all else is lost, the future still remains. – Christian Nestell Bovee (1820-1904) American writer

The end many times is just the beginning of something better. The lesson learned from a venture failed is priceless knowledge for future investments and actions. Most successful people fail more than once, sometimes many times before they succeed. It has often been said, “Today’s success was twenty-five years in the making.” And in those years, there were failures, heartaches, and disappointments, but those failures did not rule life. They were never the end; they were only the beginning.

The world is round and the place which may seen like the end may also be only the beginning.  Ivy Baker Priest (1905-1975) US Treasurer

The first attempt of David Livingstone to preach ended in failure. “Friends, I have forgotten all I had to say,” he gasped and in shame stepped from the pulpit. At that moment Robert Moffat, who was visiting Edinburgh, advised David not to give up. He suggested perhaps he could be a doctor instead of a preacher. Livingstone decided to be both. When the years of medical study were done, he went to Africa.

Livingstone, born in Scotland in 1813, was one of the most popular national heroes of the nineteenth century. He became a successful medical missionary and explorer in South Africa. Even if it seems like life’s opportunity is over, just have patience, for patience in any venture will bear fruit. It just takes time for things to come to fruition. So do as the poet said: dry the eyes, get up and begin again.

To dry one’s eyes and laugh at a fall, and baffled, get up and begin again. Robert Browning (1812-1889) English Poet

The great preacher, Phillips Brooks, at first failed at what he did. After graduating from Harvard College, he taught school but could not seem to make a go of it and in time was forced to resign his position. Charles Francis Adams wrote that the young man was “humiliated, discouraged, utterly broken down, indeed, by his complete failure at the threshold of his life.” Another biographer, Alexander V.G. Allen says: “It was a catastrophe, complete, final, and humiliating. The headmaster offered consolation to Brooks after his discomfiture in the remark that he had never known anyone who failed as schoolmaster to succeed in any other calling. It was an event calling for comment among a large circle of acquaintances, who had expected great things.”

Nothing was wanting to make the sense of mortification complete. Fortunately he was able to rouse himself. Once more ambition took possession of him. Six months after his resignation he entered the theological seminary, and three years later he began his career in the pulpit that made him famous. What if he had succeeded as a schoolmaster? What if those who called themselves his friends had succeeded in their thoughtless campaign to brand him a failure for life?

Patience is a virtue. Seek to add this to your new list of attainments in the time of failure and tears, for good thing come to those who learn to wait. One cannot rush results, but they will come in their own time. Do what is right and work toward reaching a goal without becoming frustrated, and in time, the obscure, becoming clear. Vincent De Paul (1580-1660) French missionary

Defeat is never the end but is just the beginning of success. How can we know what works and what doesn’t if we never fail? Life is learning one step at a time, an experiment here, a crossing-out of that, and an adding of this. Life can be likened to a scientist’s lab. If this doesn’t work, there will eventually be something that does.

What is defeat? Nothing but education, nothing but the first step to something better. – Wendell Phillips (1811-1884) Orator and reformer

Defeat can cause one to become stronger, giving him a greater resolution to win and making him more disciplined in his quest. It is not about losing; it is about learning, becoming resilient and fearless. It is the strong who have failed but refused to let failure be their soul mate. They have risen with new goals, new plans, and excitement for the future. Successful people refuse to give up or give in to their circumstances. They are only made better.

It is defeat that turns bone to flint; it is defeat that turns gristle to muscle; it is defeat that makes men invincible. Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) Eloquent, dramatic, and witty Protestant preacher and author

Failure is but a malfunction that needs work applied to it. Look upon failure s the material to build upon an edifice of success. Sift through the pile of broken dreams, failed plans, or disappointments, and look for something that is salvageable. Pick it up, brush it off, look at it long and hard, and begin again.

There is no failure except in no longer trying. There is no defeat except from within, no really insurmountable barrier save our own inherent weakness of purpose. Kin Hubbard (pen name) (1868-1930) Frank McKinney Hubbard, American author, humorist, and journalist He wrote as philosopher under the title “Abe Martin.”

We all receive signals from within and from without. Listen to the signals that cal you to attention to move forward. Disregard signals that send you spiraling back into the abyss of failure. Defeat can be a signal to press forward and not opt out of life prematurely, for it is a time for reflection. Learn to reflect positively concerning all things that bother you and to push away the things that are defeating you. To which signals do you allow yourself to listen?

Defeat is simply a signal to press onward – Helen Keller (1889-1968) Deaf and blind speaker and author

Although Helen was deaf and blind, Anne Sullivan taught her a language she could speak. She went to college and learned not only the English language but also spoke in German and French. She became a speaker, author, and crusader for the deaf.

The following is a portion of Helen’s address at the fifth meeting of the American Association to promote the teaching of speech to the deaf, at Mt. Airy, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 8, 1896:

I can remember the time before I learned to speak, and how I used to struggle to express my thoughts by means of the manual alphabet how my thoughts used to beat against my finger tips like little birds striving to gain their freedom, until one day Miss Fuller opened wide the prison door and let them escape. I wonder if she remembers how eagerly and gladly they spread their wings and flew away. Of course, it was not easy at first to fly. The speech wings were weak and broken, and had lost all the grace and beauty that had one been theirs; indeed, nothing was left save the impulse to fly, but that was something. One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.

But, nevertheless, it seemed to me sometimes that I could never use my speech wings as God intended I should use them; there were so many difficulties in the way, so many discouragements; but I kept on trying, knowing that patience and perseverance would win in the end. And while I worked, I built the most beautiful air-castles, and dreamed dreams, the pleasantest of which was of the time when I should talk like other people; and the though of pleasure it would give my mother to hear my voice once more, sweetened every effort and made every failure an incentive to try harder next time.

So I want to say to those who are trying learn to speak and those who are teaching them: Be of good cheer. Do not think of today’s failure, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles a delight in climbing rugged paths, which you would perhaps never know if you did not sometime slip backward if the road was always smooth and pleasant. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost. Sometime, somewhere, somehow we shall find that which we seek. We shall speak, yes, and sing, too, as God intended we should speak and sing.

To be able to delight in climbing rugged paths requires a change of mind and a new way of looking at things. When the mind is soaring but the situations around you remain mundane and you feel helpless in reaching your dreams, that is the time to remember that there will come a time when the helplessness will leave, and your dreams will come to pass.

Fight valiantly against discouragement, for this is the enemy of success. You were created to win; to dare to dream is your God given prerogative. Grow instead of wilting in the face of difficulty and, yes, even failure.

Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict.-William Ellery Channing (1780-1842) American clergyman

It takes courage to keep fighting, even when everything dictates for you to quit. No matter whet mountain stands in you way, you must just keep climbing until you reach the summit. Have courage today to reach your goal, an the flowing poem demonstrates:

Three Kinds of Courage

There’s the courage that serves you in starting to climb the mount of success rising sheer; And when you’ve slipped back there’s the courage sublime that keeps you from shedding a tear. These two kinds of courage, I give you my word, Are worthy of courage but then, You’ll not reach the summit unless you’ve the third the courage of try-it-again! -Author Unknown

Failure should be a teacher, but oft times it becomes a stumbling block and a heavy stone in the heart. The stone is so heavy that it is difficult to remove, but just because it is difficult is no reason to give up or to stop reaching toward your dream.

A failure teaches you that something can’t be done that way. – Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1924)

This quote comes from a man who reused to give up. He tried over two thousand different ways to make a light bulb burn, and they all failed. The number of failures did not matter to him; what counted was just the process of finding the right way. Because he refused to let failure dictate to him, he finally found the formula that worked. Edison’s failures were not stumbling locks but steppingstones to where he was destined to go.

You cannot keep a determined man from success. Place stumbling blocks in his way, and he takes them for steppingstones. – Orison Swett Marden (1848-1924) Founder of the Success magazine

During his quest to invent the phonograph, one night a fire ignited inside Edison’s plant. While he helplessly watched it burn, with his costly experiments going up in flames, he called his son Charles. “Come!” he said. “You’ll never see anything like this again!”

Then he called his wife. As the three stood gazing, Edison said, “There go all our mistakes. Now we can start over afresh.” In two weeks he started rebuilding the plant, and it was not long before he invented the phonograph. His disappointment did not destroy him; it just strengthened his resolve even more.

Disappointment to a noble soul is what cold water is to burning metal; it strengthens tempers, intensifies, but never destroys it. -Eliza Tabor (1835-1914) English author and novelist

“Failure teaches success.” It will teach if we will allow it to do so.

Failure is not fatal. Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. It should challenge us to new heights of accomplishments, not pull us to new depths of despair. From honest failure can come valuable experience. – William Arthur Ward (1921-1994) American author, editor, pastor, and teacher

Do not give failure the satisfaction of destroying you. It is not meant to kill but to give knowledge and experience. Failure should be a challenge to reach higher heights and to go beyond failed efforts. It is not a time to stop �that is the worst thing a person can do. In spite of failing at something; just forge ahead, face life head on, and with unswerving determination.

Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records. – William Arthur Ward

Failure is not falling; it is staying down when one falls. Nobody need stay a failure! People were born to succeed. It just takes some people longer to find their way than others, but anyone can make it if he determines to do so. Do not be discouraged, but get up and try again.

A Creed for the Discouraged

I believe that God created me to be happy, to enjoy the blessings of life, to be useful to my fellow-beings, and an honor to my country. I believe that the trials which beset me today are bat the fiery test by which my character is strengthened, ennobled and made worthy to enjoy the higher things of life, which I believe are in store for me.

I believe that my soul is too grand to be crushed by defeat; I will rise above it. I will be master of circumstances and surroundings, not their slave. I will not yield to discouragements. I will trample them under food and make them serve as steppingstones to success. I will conquer my obstacles and turn them into opportunities. My failures of today will help to guide me on to victory tomorrow.

The morrow will bring new strength, new hopes, new opportunities and new beginnings. I will be ready to meet it with a brave heart, a calm mind and an undaunted spirit. In all things I will do my best, and leave the rest to the Infinite. I will not waste my mental energies by useless worry. I will learn to dominate my restless thoughts and look on the bright side of things. I will face the world bravely; I will not be a coward. For I am immortal and nothing can overcome me. – Virginia Opal Myers

Success Story:

Beverly and Ruby Osborne were the first to introduce “chicken in the rough.” It all started in 1936 when they were driving from the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma to California, trying to forget that they had just failed in the business they had spent a lifetime building. They were middle aged, the Depression had wiped out their savings, and both felt pretty low. With not much more than their meager belongings and a basket of fried chicken, Beverly Osborne coaxed his Ford pickup across the barren prairie.

For lunch, they ate some of the fired chicken the Ruby brought to help revive their spirits. Just hen the pickup went over a bump, And the chicken scattered all over the floor. As she picked it up, she made the comment, “This is really chicken in the rough!” Suddenly her husband was captured by an idea. He swung the car around and started back for Oklahoma City. This chance remark meant a fortune to the Osbornes.

They borrowed sixty thousand dollars and built a drive-in restaurant where people were served fried chicken without knives or forks and were presented with a finger bowl instead. They served shoestring potatoes, hot biscuits, and honey with it. That was the delectable meal that started “Fast Food Fried Chicken Franchising.” The idea was an immediate success. In 1950 Time magazine ran a feature article on the “Chicken in the Rough” operation, and at the time the Osbornes were grossing almost $2 million a year and had sold 335 million orders of “Chicken in the Rough.” By 1955 they had over 250 restaurants, including some a far away as Johannesburg, South Africa.

It all started with just a statement. A moment in time, in idea was born, it germinated, hard work was applied, and excitement followed. Before long, and as the seed or idea became full blown, it became the success that it was.

Success Nuggets:

There are few positions if life in which difficulties have not to be encountered. These difficulties are, however, our best instructors, as our mistakes form our best experience. We learn wisdom from failure more than from success. We often discover what will do by finding out what will not do. Great thoughts, discoveries, and inventions have very generally been nurtured in hardship, often pondered over in sorrow and established with difficulty. – Paxton Hood

Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success. – Dale Carnegie

More undertakings fail for want of spirit than for want of sense. – William Hazlitt

Isn’t It Strange

Isn’t it strange
That princes and kings,
And clowns that caper
In sawdust rings,
And common people
Like you and me
Are builders for eternity?
Each is given a bag of tools,
A shapeless mass,
A book of rules;
And each must make,
Ere life is flown
A stumbling block
Or a stepping-stone.
-R. L. Sharpe

This article “Failure: The Stepping Stone to Greater Things” was taken from “Seeds for Success” by Joy Haney and may be used only for study and research purposes only.