Stories of overcoming failures with resilience are seldom told while in the conundrum, but rather, are narratives that often serve as a backdrop to the final plot of the success narrative. Notable stories of the likes of Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates and Soichiro Honda just to name a few demonstrate failures, resilience and victory so elaborately. These stories pull us in, offering some comfort with relatable insights into our own pursuits. While these notable success stories seem like perfect cinematic movie plots, the linearity of the experiences, or the lack thereof are often not told. If you could actually talk to some of these people or were a character in their stories, then you would realize the complexities of their stories. It is said that success is the iceberg people see meanwhile underneath the surface constitutes failure, hard work, persistence, sacrifice, good habits, and dedication. Throughout my professional and personal life, I have experienced more failures than successes. However, what makes the journey worth it, are the joys from winning. Success tends to fade away failures’ pain.
My own experiences have thought me a lesson or two on why resilience and powering through tough times have culminated to successful outcomes in my life. When I was pursuing my Masters degree in engineering at Rutgers University, I always wanted to work for a particular fortune 500 company. I got the job. Everyone in my circle thought how fortunate and lucky or smart I was to be working for such a big corporation once I eventually joined the company. What they did not realize is that, I had been rejected three times prior without even getting an interview when I applied. Getting those auto-reject emails was not fun. However, I continued to hone my interview skills, acquired new skills, prepared a professional portfolio and improved my resume. The fourth time I applied and got an interview, I was well prepared and confident in my skills and qualifications. The interview went so well and I got an offer four hours after I left. See, what I learnt from the prior rejections was to keep preparing myself and learning more skills required for the type of job I was hoping to get. In addition, I prepared a professional portfolio with work samples. This was unusual for a research position at the time. What that thought me is to think outside the box and come up with creative ways to differentiate myself from other candidates. This story is not meant for bragging but to highlight why difficult and trying times position us to amp up ourselves for a future opportunity. By doing so, we are preparing ourselves for the next challenge or opportunity for which we will be better prepared to tackle and that is being resilient. After all, luck is when preparation meets opportunity.
Resilience can be a formidable force in tough times. Not only does it allow us to keep forging ahead, it also helps gnarl the pain from the bad event. What we need to know is that resilience usually becomes our driving force in treacherous times. The path to success is not a linear one; rather, it is most often punctuated by disappointments and setbacks. Resilience is the fuel that keeps the steam engine within rolling when faced with that treacherous climb in this thing called life. I think most people have a misunderstanding of failure. They view setbacks as a final stop and instantaneously make the decision to give-up. Rather if we change our views of failure as merely the universe’s way of either redirecting our steps or as a cautionary signal of what lies ahead, then we can embrace those moments and power through in those times.
Remember that failure is an event and not your life. Rather than spending countless efforts worrying about the event, it is better to analyze and figure out what went wrong and use the lessons learnt to move forward. Use the experience as an opportunity for growth and keep thriving and going after your dream. I have always admired people who choose to continue in spite of failures. That really has been my own motto as well. That is what constitutes resilience and as long as you do not give up, you are winning. Do not be bothered by the criticisms of your peers. Remember this is your journey not theirs. Consider criticism fuel to your engine and use it to drive you forward.