Let me share a short story with you. As a man was passing by some elephants, he suddenly stopped. He was amazed to see that these huge elephants were being held by only a small rope tied to one of their legs. Apart from these ropes, there were no chains and no cages, still the elephants were patiently standing, not even attempting to break free. From the first sight, it was quite obvious that the elephants could, if they wanted to, break away from their bonds at anytime but for some reason, they did not. The man noticed that the elephants’ trainer was standing nearby and asked him why these elephants just stood there, without making any attempt to get away or break free. “Well”, the trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller, we use the rope of the same size to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe that they cannot break away. They believe that the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.” The trainer’s answer left the man flabbergasted. The elephants could at any time break free from their weak ropes but only because they believed they cannot, they were stuck there. They were not even interested in trying to change their fate. Just like these elephants, many of us go through our lives hanging onto the belief that we cannot do something, simply because we failed at it once. What we forget is that failure is a part of learning; we should never give up the struggle in life.
If someone told you that success comes easy, it is a sheer lie. However, the people who told you that you cannot succeed after a failure were no lesser liars. However cliché it may sound to you, but failures really are the stepping stones to success. If and when you fail, do not beat yourself up. Look for the next opportunity and not the previous one that went by. The previous one only helps you in learning from your mistakes and making a better and more improved effort. But the next one gives you the opportunity to show that you have learned from your mistakes. You can do it better next time, just like Thomas Alva Edison did better than his previous 1,000 attempts before he successfully invented the light bulb. If you figure out what went wrong last time, then you know how to make it right next time. Rather than beating yourself up for messing up, make it a point to pat yourself for figuring out what went wrong.
You are your biggest supporter. You need to encourage yourself and pump yourself up. Why? Because you cannot wait and hope that someone else will come along and cheer you up, make you feel better, tell you that you will do better next time. That is how life works. Only self-reliance would take you forward. Have faith in yourself and your ability to figure out what works and what does not. If, by mistake, you fall off the track, get right back on it. If you fall away from your long cherished principles, get right back to them. If you fall out of habit, get back into it. If something goes wrong, do what you can to make it right. It might be hard and it might be scary. But this is the stage where you can stand out as compared to others. Cheer yourself on to victory.
There are times when the defeat is the best beginning. Why? Because when you are at the bottom, there is only one direction that you can go—up. Adversity brings out the best in people. However, this is not true for everyone. There are a lot of people who do not change themselves for various reasons. They rather prefer to wait for a change to happen itself. They indulge in self-pity and refuse to take control of the situation, their life, their career, their health, their relationships and their finances.
In case you are disgusted with your failure and are in the need of change, let me offer some words of advice to you—your present failure is a temporary condition. You will rebound from failure, as surely as you gravitated into failure. Your current limitations or failures are the building blocks from which you can create greatness in the future. I am not saying this just to bluff you. I am talking after reading about great people and how they managed to achieve success in their respective fields, the path they took and the number of failures that they were forced to face in their journey. If there is one lesson you can take away from their lives, it is this—you can go where you want to go. You can do what you want to do. You can become what you want to become. You can do it all, starting now, right from where you are. Never aim to settle for mere existence and self-pity. Promise yourself this today and make a commitment to excellence.