Episode 27: How to Thrive in Life After a Big Mistake

It is a great day here in the heartland of America! Good morning, I’m your host Jimmy Williams for Live a Life by Design, your Monday morning moments of motivation to get you started off on your week for success. Thanks for joining me again today, it’s going to be a great week, and you know why? Because we’re gonna make it a great week by putting between our ears, that powerful message of positivity.

Heard someone tell me, oh a few weeks ago, how can you always be so positive about everything? This world’s filled with all of this negativity, we talk of wars and rumors of wars, and people hate each other because of just being born in different countries, and you know I just stop them. And I said you know I refuse to listen to all the negativity in the world. I can not do one thing to stop it. You see I can only control those things that I have in my environment that I truly have an ability to control. You know I don’t even listen to news, you’ve heard me say many times, because I can’t change what they’re reporting in the news. They’re gonna report on all the news stations anything they wish to report, and it could be negative in most instances. You know, good news doesn’t sell newspapers, as the old saying goes. But I just refuse to accept that. I refuse to allow the external environment around me to dictate my internal feelings. I want to make my day the way I want it to be.

You see I set up my day for success based on the powerful thoughts I place in my mind. Hey, I want you to know you people are fantastic in my book. I have been receiving emails of such great comments, recommendations, it’s just been incredible of the number of people that have been enjoying the podcast. If you haven’t subscribed, please think about it. Do it today. Make that your one goal this week that’s in a positive movement. Don’t wait until tomorrow, don’t procrastinate on this. Go ahead and subscribe. If you would, while you’re there, go ahead and leave us a rating. A review on iTunes. We’d be most appreciative.

Today we’re gonna focus on an area that I like to say is one of the greatest areas to study in life. We’re talking about how to thrive in a life after a big mistake. You know we have mistakes every day. We make mistakes all along the path that we take. But the word failure only exists when we do not continue after the mistake. If we allow the mistake to dictate how we are going to proceed, we have already failed in life. I’m gonna give you the big secret today, one that I have researched for many hours on how to create a wonderful life after you’ve made one humongous mistake or two.

So let’s talk about a few of these people I have studied and I have taken great pride in learning from the mistakes of others in my life. That doesn’t mean I’m exempt from those mistakes, and I’m going to share one or two of those with you as the podcast episode concludes. But let’s take just a few minutes and talk about some of the greatest success stories in history, and how they became that way. You know they make it look easy when you see them on TV, or walking the red carpet or you just see them in any kind of area of video, they just look glamorous. They look wealthy, you know because they are wealthy now. But they don’t show you the past. They don’t show you the mistakes, you don’t get to ever see the scars from these people. And what price that they’ve paid to finally be where they are today.

One of those is J.K. Rowling. You know, J.K. was an author, she’s about 52 years of age now. She suffered so many setbacks on her road to success that I find them inspiring. Not that I wish that she had these setbacks, that’s not the point of my comment. But my comment is is what did she do about those setbacks, and how did she respond. You see, she made a speech in 2008 to students graduating from Harvard University, and she spoke about the benefits of failure. Now how many of us think about failure as a benefit? You know too often, we’re so self pitied that we can’t even get up off the floor, and she’s speaking about it to a very esteemed graduating class at Harvard University of how failure is a benefit.

She says, and I quote, “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not lived at all. In which case, you fail by default. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way”. That is such a profound statement. You see, she actually has a big background in failing. Let’s mention a few of those that occurred to her. She was a writer, and was a divorced single parent living on benefits when she wrote the first Harry Potter book. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the book was rejected by 12 publishers before being snapped up by Bloomsberry. Now, at that time of the article, seven Harry Potter books, 8 Harry Potter films, and three adult novels later, J.K. Rowling is one of the most successful authors of all time. Her estimated net worth is more than a billion dollars.

But you see, she learned only from failure how to do things differently. She was turned down 12 publishing houses. That’s an incredible story in my opinion. Talk about persistence, continuing on, have faith in herself, right? Another individual I just really love to read stories about, I wouldn’t say that I want to emulate any of these people, but I do want to learn from them. And that’s the key here today, as you listen to this podcast. Learn from these mistakes others made, or better yet, learn how we should respond after the mistake.

This founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, dropped out of college after just six months, and for a while was so poor that he had to sleep on his friends floors, return coke bottles for money and go to the local hare krishna temple for free meals. At the age of 30 he was unceremoniously removed from the company he founded. But returned to Apple 12 years later and led it to become the huge global success we know today. Steve said, “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me”.

Now would we say that if we lost our job today? What’s even worse is if you’re the founder of the company and your own board of directors terminates you. You know, that’s gotta sting, that has got to hurt. “The heaviness,” Steve says, “of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again. Less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life”. And certainly it was. Steve became the author and designer, the idea creator of some of the most popular products Apple now claims is their most profitable.

As a young woman who had endured a childhood of poverty and abuse, Oprah Winfrey also suffered numerous setbacks in her early career. She was fired from her job as a reporter because her bosses said she was “unfit” for TV. Lost her job as a news anchor and was demoted to morning TV. That demotion, however, led her to find her voice. She because a hugely popular daytime TV host and a multi-millionaire at the age of 32 when her talk show went national. As well as being an acclaimed actress, Oprah also owns her own TV station, and was named by Life Magazine as both the most influential woman and the most influential black person of her generation. Now that’s how we recover. She didn’t let those naysayers cause her to lose sight of her goals. She didn’t allow these setbacks to dictate her future. She had her vision so clear in her mind that her success story was going to be written no matter who held the ink pen.

Another great person of Hollywood, Steven Spielberg was rejected from the University of Southern California’s famous film school not once, not twice, but three times. And when he then got a place at California State University, he dropped out because his talent had already been spotted by Universal Studios. Returning to finish his university degree 35 years later in 2002, Spielberg explained, “I wanted to accomplish this for many years, as a thank you to my parents for giving me the opportunity for an education and a career.” And that’s a personal note from my own family, and young people every about the importance for achieving their college education goals. You see, Steven Spielberg went on to make some of these most profitable movies that are now heralded as the best of all time, in my lifetime particularly.

Another person that sought out greatness, didn’t find it so easily, but eventually rose to the top of his field, was Steven King. Now I’ve got to tell you, this man’s mind is so creative I don’t really enjoy a lot of his movies. I’ve seen a couple of them, but I would tell you that I’m not a big fan of some of the gory movies that he has written, if you will, in books and they’ve created on film. But King was working at a laundry, a petroleum station, and as a janitor to increase his meager income from his teaching job, and he, his wife and baby lived in a trailer. He started selling short stories to magazines, but became disheartened about his novella,Carrie, and threw it away. His wife encouraged him to pick it up again, and once it was finished it was rejected by 30 publishers. Man, that’s gotta sting. When it did get published, it sold over one million copies in the first year. Steven King says, “If my wife had suggested to me, even with love and kindness and gentleness that the time had come to put my dreams away and support my family, I would have done that with no complaint”. Thankfully for him and us, she didn’t.

A great entrepreneur that gives me great insight when I read anything that he’s spoken or what he’s written. I just really learn a tremendous amount from this gentleman. And he left school at age 16, now some of the facts that I’m giving you today, are truly facts that none of us had to experience ourselves. These people, men and women, started at much worse positions than you and I, and rose to heights that hopefully you and I will someday attain. He left school at 16, his headmaster having told him that he would either end up in prison, or be a millionaire. That’s quite a broad range it’n it? He initially ran a student magazine, but it didn’t do well. And after he moved into selling records, his mother had to remortgage the family home to help pay an out of court. And now everything he touched since has turned into gold. Along aside its successes, numerous Virgin lines have flocked, from Virgin Brides to Virgin cars. “Over the years my team and I have not let mistakes, failures, or mishaps get us down”, says Richard Branson. “Instead even when a venture has failed, we try to look for opportunities to see if we can capitalize on another gap in the market.”

You see the beautiful thing about that approach is is just because he made one mistake, doesn’t mean that all of his judgment is invalid. It doesn’t mean that his team is a group of failures. Just the opposite. I have never known a successful person that didn’t make mistakes along the way. If you’re not trying hard enough, you are not making mistakes. To be successful requires a total commitment of all your being. Mentally, financially, physically. Spiritually even. If you’re not fully committed to bringing about what your dream is in your mind, and bring it to reality. Then it will never be realized with a haphazard, halfway attempt.

One last person that I have enjoyed many many times participating in one of his dreams, that’s right I’ve enjoyed participating in one of his dreams. They all told this man that it could never be done. They told him he was a fool for buying property that was nothing more than swampland in Florida. That you couldn’t even build a building on this land, much less the worlds largest fun park. Of course, I’m talking about Walt Disney. You know, believe it or not, the young Walt Disney was fired from an early job on a newspaper because they said he “wasn’t creative enough”. Said “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas”. Can you believe this is about Walt Disney? When he founded his first animation company in 1920, it went broke in a year. Disney was reportedly so poor that he couldn’t pay his rent and survived by eating dog food. Oh, my goodness, how many of us could say we’ve done that?

Now, side note here, even in undergrad school I ate some things that I wouldn’t feed my dog today, but back then we kinda thought it was food. But anyway, I digress, when he tried to get MGM Studios to distribute Mickey Mouse in 1927, he was told that the idea would never work because a giant mouse on the screen would terrify women. How wrong they were. To this day, Disney Corp has more visitors in Disney World in Florida, then most countries of Europe see in a given year. The place that is known as the happiest place on Earth, is visited by more countries on this planet than any other amusement park on the globe. I would say Walt Disney got it right.

I want to give you some quotes from these so called failures that we’ve read about. Some of these quotes really come to mind to me, and I’ve written them in my journal. I like to reflect on them from time to time. Particularly if I’ve faced a pretty uphill climb, and I’m not making the progress I wish to make. It gives me a chance to reflect, you know we go into that introspection we talked about a couple of weeks ago. I look inward to figure out what it is I need to differently. How can I attack the problem, or what other energies can I place toward the solution?

First and foremost, Bill Gates has a great one. “It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” Man, I love that. In other words, don’t allow yourself to just be partying when it’s successful. Get together with your team. Find out what went wrong. Why the project did not end as you intended, why the end result was not the big hurrah you wanted it to be. Or the product you developed, why was it not market ready? Why was there no demand for what you’re bringing to the table. Study this and celebrate the small steps. You know, too often we say it’s an all or nothing world. I totally disagree with that, I think you can make progress toward growth. Even though the end result may not be one that is a total success, you will have learned anew what to do differently what to do next time.

Michael Jordan, one of the greatest athletes of all time. A living legend, if you will. You just say the number 23, or Chicago Bulls and ask who the first player is to come to mind, and I assure you nine out of 10 they’re gonna say Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan had a quote, “I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed”. The young boy in junior high that was kicked off the junior high team, couldn’t even qualify as a starter on his basketball team rose to be an MVP in the MBA league for many years.

Oprah Winfrey, as we said earlier, has a great quote. “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.” And you know I’ve paved those paths with failure in my life. I have done some things that I hoped would turn out better, more profitable, be a bigger turn out and they just did not take hold. But you can’t let that stop you. Henry Ford, “the only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing”. To simply set aside the fact that you failed and not to examine the reasons why is true failure. You see Thomas Edison, I don’t know exactly how many times he attempted to make the filament of a light bulb last for longer than it had before, but when he was approached by a reporter that asked him how many attempts had he had. He said, “Well, I may have had ten thousand attempts that didn’t work, but I found ten thousand ways to not make filament”. He learned from his mistakes, in a way that his mind said, ten thousand and one, we’ll start again.

You know, C.S. Lewis, the great writer, Christian author, “Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward to success. ” Unless it’s just handed to you. And I promise you, if success is handed to you by familial means, or you won something in the lottery, or whatever you deem to be a success, and it’s handed to you without work and preparation, I can assure you it is a fleeting enterprise. You will not succeed on a long term basis without having the experience, knowledge and fortitude gained only by having failures on the pathway to that success.

Charlie Chaplin, the great actor of the early films. “Failure is unimportant, it takes courage to make a fool of yourself.” I love that one. Bobby Kennedy, “only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly”. You see, small amounts of input gain us very small amounts of output. I think Senator Kennedy was right when he said, basically, if we’re not gonna be fully committed with the inputs of what we do and commit all we have, then the achievement we realize will truly be small indeed.

You know, J.K. Rowling said failure is so important. Winston Churchill backs this up. Winston Churchill, known for many great quotes, one of my heroes of WWII and British History. Winston Churchill states, “success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm”. That to me means a tremendous amount of effort must be placed on the moving forward.

Well, Jimmy, how do I get there, how do I move forward? Let’s talk about that for just a few moments. You know, one of my favorite rock bands is a band called Boston that happened to come out of Boston, Massachusetts. When they burst onto the rock scene, they came on with a fury. You would have thought they were just writing their first album, and it would just be gang busters and they did it overnight. But they took years of preparation, practicing and so forth to get their album just perfect. Led by a guitarist, keyboardist, and an electronics engineer by the name of Tom Scholz. Tom had faced some setbacks in his career, in his attempt to get started on the band and get it going. Many times he faced walls that had to be overcome by either knocking them down or going around them.

In this instance, he wrote a song called “Don’t Look Back”. One of my favorite songs of the 70s. And the lyrics go, with permission from Boston, something like this:

"Don't look back
A new day is breakin'
It's been too long since I felt this way
I don't mind where I get taken
The road is callin'
Today is the day
I can see
It took so long just to realize
I'm much too strong
Now to compromise
Now I see what I am is holding me down
I'll turn it around
I finally see the dawn arrivin'
I see beyond the road I'm drivin'
It's a bright horizon and I'm awake now
Oh I see myself in a brand new way
The sun is shinin'
The clouds are breakin'
'Cause I can't lose now, there's no game to play"

Now this song had such a meaning to me, only because I never really listened to the lyrics as much as I did the twin guitar melodic leads that they had throughout the song. This band had the capability and talent of guitarists that were unheard of at the time by many bands. And I just loved listening to that lead guitar. Being an old guitar player myself, I really did dig the way they sounded. They could make the guitar sound so much better than other bands. It had a unique signature sound for them. And at the end of the day, just the uplifting lyrics, after I’d listen to it for the music really struck home to me in times of difficulty.

But those lyrics, written by Tom Scholz, tells you about how he has overcome the challenges of life. You know, he had failures, but he kept pursuing his dream. Ultimately selling millions and millions of albums. I did get to see the band live, one time, and it was as they had already aged and had become quite aged in years, about 60 plus years of age, and I will tell you they could still play with some great talent. Admittedly, they didn’t jump around the stage as much as they did, I understand, in their earlier years. But still a great, great voice and great talent.

So let me tell you a little bit about something that happened to me. During my career, after I’d left a very stable position with an international firm, I decided to start my own career, my own company. I began like most new startups, you start out investing money with your equipment. You start out investing money in people, and you sit down with the processes, and the types of clients you wish to attract. Well one day, after being somewhat successful, I decided to branch into a new area that a friend of mine, a dear friend of mine, a mentor at the time, had convinced me that if we were to partner, that we could really breakthrough and both of us experience a great success.

Well, to make a long story short, after about two years, and investing money and investing time, and investing talent, and not receiving one penny, I find out that my partner has been taking funds. I then realized that I’d made a huge mistake. The mistake that I’d made was one that made me really kick myself. I couldn’t believe that I allowed my trust in an individual to blind my common sense. After $40,000, having to pay for my share, plus legal fees, plus starting over in what I considered now to be my own business again, I realized that I had learned some things in life that’ll serve me well. As you read my journal pages from that era, there were times that I did not feel like going to work that day. I emotionally and mentally was not equipped to deal with the challenges of the day. I had been kicked and rode hard and put up wet, as we say on the farm.

But I got up. Everyday I looked in the mirror, I listened to Zig Ziglar, I read good books. I put myself in a frame of mind that said, I’m gonna let it go, I’m gonna forgive, I’m gonna forget. Well, that’s the hard part, to be truthful with you. But I’m gonna move forward. I’m not going to allow this one mistake to derail what I think could be greatness in my future. And sure enough, it worked. We have excelled in greater heights in our business. We have had great team members that have grown with us and been with us for many years. That contribute to our success, in an exponential way.

So this week your challenge is this: Let go of all the hurt that’s holding you back, and make this week a new fresh start to realizing triumph over your challenges. Don’t listen to the naysayers. Sometimes you have to just put aside some relationships where people are holding you back from realizing your ultimate dream. Don’t take your eyes off the prize. List a failure or circumstances you’ve had to overcome on our website, at www.livealifeby.design/podcast. At the bottom of the podcast notes, for this episode, you’ll see a space there. I would love to hear how you had experienced a difficulty, give me some of the circumstances. You don’t have to list names, of course. And then provide some way you recovered or utilized that heart hurting and turned it into a positive.

You may not be where you want to be today, but you are further along than you were yesterday. Today is a new day. It’s time for you to go forward, make this week your week. Don’t allow external factors to dictate your internal feelings. Today’s Monday. Make this the most powerful Monday you’ve ever experienced. Forget about yesterday, it’s in the books. Go make this day what you want it to be.

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