Failing to Succeed: How Failure Brings Success

Written by: Ethan Rampersaud
Photo Credit: Creative Commons

Nobody said the road to success was easy, and nobody said that it was smooth and paved out, with a GPS to tell you where to go to get to your destination. Ask any of today’s successful figures: today’s actors, motivational speakers, thinkers and role models, and they will declare that failure, like a philanthropist, donated and brought success to them. While this claim may be somewhat true, they aren’t telling the entire story. Therein lies the question, what exactly makes it the grindstone that sharpens success? The answer is one simple yet strong word: initiative.

Initiative is what drives us, the human race, to grow and to evolve in reaction to the rapidly changing world around us. Initiative is what inspired the first engineers, architects, and designers of our modern civilization. However, the question still stands: How does failure involve initiative? To use failure successfully, you must see the failure and find ways to fix it instantly. Some people react to failure incorrectly, usually finding excuses and placing blame rather than actively finding the problem to the situation and finding the solution for it. Thomas Alva Edison had failed a thousand times before he created and perfected his invention of the lightbulb. What if he had stopped at the 999th attempt, threw in the towel and called it a day? We would be living in nocturnal darkness. No city lights would illuminate the skylines, and we could not see the beauty that comes from the night. While Edison did not create the skyscrapers that would house these lights nor the night’s beauty, he took the initiative to make change that contributed to a wave of development, with inventions such as LED lights, computer monitors, and flashlights expanding and improving his original discovery.

While you might not be a brilliant inventor such as Edison, you can also exercise initiative. When you make a mistake or mess up, don’t push the situation to the corner and attempt to alleviate it through blame and accusation. Rather, see how you can improve yourself next time, and how you can ensure that mistake doesn’t happen again. Initiative is the focus on an internal locus of control, and the focus on how you want to drive your life. When you make excuses or blame others for how you make mistakes, you only make your life more cumbersome by transferring the control to others. Initiative is taking responsibility and saying, “It was my doing, and I am willing to change it.” It is knowing and exercising your own identity as a person.

This summer, you will make mistakes. However, challenge yourself to jump back from those mistakes and improve. Practice your weakest subject, your weakest trait, and fail countless times. However, keep one thing in mind while you do: Initiative is the catalyst for failure to produce success. 

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