In the uncertain world we live in today, no character trait is more important that resilience. The ability to persevere in troubled times, to gain learning from failure, to find courage amid frightening events has never been more necessary.
No one has a road clear of obstacles. Some of the great achievers have endured massive failure along the way. Some examples:
- Henry Ford had five businesses fail before he founded Ford Motor Company, leaving him broke each time.
- Harland Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame had his famous secret chicken recipe rejected 1,009 times before a restaurant accepted it.
- Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because, “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” After that, he started a number of businesses that didn’t last too long and ended with bankruptcy and failure.
- He didn’t speak until he was four and did not read until he was seven, causing his teachers and parents to think he was mentally handicapped, slow and anti-social. Eventually, he was expelled from school and was refused admittance to the Zürich Polytechnic School. But eventually, Albert Einstein won the Nobel Prize for Physics.
- Teachers told Thomas Edison he was “too stupid to learn anything,” and he was fired from his first two jobs for not being productive enough. Later he made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb.
- Abraham Lincoln went to war a captain and returned a private. He then started numerous failed business and was defeated in numerous runs he made for public office.
- After three months of acting classes, the school informed Lucille Ball’s mother that, “Our school has produced some of the greatest actors and actresses in the U.S. However, we have never had a student with less talent and ability than your daughter. She is no longer enrolled in our school!”
- Theodor Seuss Giesel—Dr. Seuss— had his first book rejected by 27 different publishers.
- The manager of the Grand Ole Opry fired Elvis Presley after just one performance, telling him, “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.”
- Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.
The one thing this diverse group has in common is resilience. Failures—even repeated, crushing ones—didn’t stop them. And eventually, they were all enormously successful.
So, as my friend and mentor Tom Haller says, “It’s a great life if you don’t weaken.”
Stay strong, stay committed and stay courageous.
Charles Dickens’ character Tiny Tim was originally called Small Sam.