Answer this question: what does Walt Disney, Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, Marilyn Monroe, and Abraham Lincoln all have in common? Please don’t answer, “They are all famous”. Though technically true, one particular attribute lead to their successes. It wasn’t talent. After all, Walt Disney was fired from his position by an editor of a newspaper because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas”. Also, Marilyn Monroe was told by a talent agency to try being a secretary instead. It isn’t intelligence. In fact, Steve Jobs was fired from a company that he started. Abraham Lincoln lost 8 elections before becoming president. Oprah was demoted from being a news anchor.
The Will To Fail
If you haven’t guessed it yet, it is persistence. It is the gumption of taking a punch in the face (figuratively) and still being able to get back up. In fact, it takes a willingness to fail because of a strong conviction. Thank God Abraham Lincoln didn’t stop after election number eight. Also, I am sure everybody who has ever been a child in the last 70 years is glad that Walt Disney didn’t stop pursuing creativity. Parents may hate it now after having spent a sweat-filled day in the sweltering summer heat of Florida, but they sure loved it when they were nine.
Unfortunately, today’s digital world does not lend itself to such strong wills. Having an influx of “perfection” come across our social media feeds, the average person comes to believe that success is easy. Rarely does somebody choose to be vulnerable with how much he or she struggled. Maybe it is bad for branding or a massive ego issue. No matter the reason, young people are especially affected by the “perfection” of what they see every second. Frankly, it doesn’t help that our society has become soft.
One hundred years ago, our great grandfathers (or even their grandfathers) died in mud-filled trenches that were being bombed with mustard gas. The next generation stormed the beaches while being met with machine gun fire and tripping over the corpses of their friends. Today, we are mad if we can’t mooch off of our neighbor’s Netflix account. Micro-aggressions and safe spaces are buzzwords and necessities on college campuses. Less men are going on dates and getting married because they don’t know how to talk to women. However, this is not just the fault of the younger generations. Somewhere along the line we started protecting are kids from feeling pain and loss. Youth sports gave trophies to everyone instead of encouraging kids to work harder. We started taking less risks which lead to a weaker and softer generation.
How Do We Get Back?
This article will not conclude with telling you how to raise a child. That is up to each individual parent. However, if you are an adult, hear our advice: you have only one life. Nothing is coming to give you your dreams. The government won’t, friends won’t, and family won’t. You must realize that failure and learning from that failure is the only way to eventually get what you want. If you are willing to get knocked down 7 times (or more), but get up one more time, you will beat 99% of the population. Maybe this was more evident to the likes of Abraham Lincoln and Oprah, but let this be a figurative slap in the face to embrace failure and pioneering.