It is a mistake to suppose that men succeed through success; they much oftener succeed through failure. By far the best experience of men, experience from which they gain the most of lasting value, is gathered from their failures in their dealings with others in the affairs of life. Such failures, for sensible men, incite to better self-management and greater tact and self-control, as a means of avoiding them in the future.
Ask the successful business man, and he will tell you that he learned the secret of success through being baffled, defeated, thwarted, and circumvented, far more than from his successes. Precept, study, advice, and example could never have taught them so well as failure has done. It has disciplined and taught them what to do as well as what not to do. And this latter is often of more importance than the former.
Many have to make up their minds to encounter failure again and again before they finally succeed; but if they have pluck, the failure will only serve to rouse their energies, and stimulate them to renewed efforts.
Failure in one direction has sometimes had the effect of forcing the far-seeing student to apply himself in another, which latter application has in many instances proven to be in just the line that they were fitted for. No one can tell how many of the world’s most brilliant geniuses have succeeded because of their first failures.
Failures in many instances are only means that Providence takes to work an otherwise too pliable disposition into one fitted to confront the stern duties of life. Even as steel is tempered by heat, and, through much hammering and changing of original form, is at last wrought into useful articles, so in the history of many men do we find that they were attempered in the furnace of trials and affliction, and only through failures in first attempts were at length fitted for the ultimate success that crowned their efforts.
They are doubly in error who suffer themselves to give up the battle at one, or even two successive, failures. As in the military field he is the greater general who from defeat organizes ultimate victory, so in the battle of life he is the true hero who, even while smarting under the sting of present failure, lays his plans and summons his forces for a triumphant victory. We must not allow our jaundiced views to prevail over our knowledge of men and affairs.
The world is not coming to an end, nor society going to destruction, because our petty plans have miscarried. The present failure should only teach you to be more wary in the future, and thus will you gather a rich harvest as the final outcome of your efforts.
Above all, do not sink into apathy and despair. Rouse yourself, and do not allow your best years to slip past because you have not succeeded as you thought you would. Is not the sun as bright, nature as smiling as before? Why, then, do you go about as if all hope had fled? Know you not that
“In the reproof of chance Lies the true proof of men.”
As in the physical world, disease is but the effort nature makes to remove some pressing evil, so failure should be but the methods whereby we are enabled to eliminate those traits of character which are a hindrance to our lasting success. As the inventor subjects his production to the most rigorous tests in order that inherent defects may become known and, if possible, remedied, even so does Providence, in subjecting us to great trials, discover to us by our failures wherein we lack; and we are remiss in duty to ourselves do we not most earnestly endeavor to improve by these tests?
The man who never failed is a myth. Such a one never lived, and is never likely to. All success is a series of efforts in which, when closely viewed, are to be seen more or less failures. These efforts are ofttimes not visible to the naked eye, but each individual heart is painfully conscious of how many of its most cherished plans ended only in failures.
If you fail now and then, do not be discouraged; bear in mind that it is only the part and experience of every successful man. We might even go farther, and say that the most successful men often have the most failures. These failures, which to the feeble are mere stumbling-blocks, to the strong serve to remove the scales from their eyes, so that they now see clearer, and go on their way with a firmer tread and a more determined mien, and compel life to yield to them its most enduring trophies.
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