“Every wall is a door.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson once quipped: “Every Wall is a Door.” No one has a problem-free life; if it is not this, it is that; It is not a matter of if; it is a matter of when. We all go through the tough times, the heartaches, the disappointments, the sadness, and depressing episodes. Do not let success get into your head, and do not let failure get into your heart. There would always be a tough road around the corner; whatever would go wrong would always go wrong. You are either going through a storm, coming out from a storm, or heading towards a storm.
“The road to success is not straight, there is a curve called failure, a loop called confusion, speed bumps called friends, red lights called enemies, caution lights called family. But if you have a spare called determination, an engine called perseverance, insurance called faith, a driver called your conscience, you will make it to a place called success.” – T.E. BOYD
Whether it is losing a job, failing an exam, losing a parent or a child, dealing with infertility, failing to get your dream job, the betrayals and backstabbing from family and friends, life can be tough and hard sometimes, making meaning of the suffering can make it tougher. We ask, Why Me? When the tough times come around, it usually comes in silos, and you wonder why now? We will go through it, but the most important thing is to go through the pain and accept life’s reality. A lot of our unhappiness in life stems from always wanting our expectations to align with our reality. One of the common traits of the highly successful people in the world is their ability to bounce back from their failures and disappointments; they try to get the message from every mess, when life gives them lemon, they turn it into lemonade.
Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
We’ll See Story
There is a great Chinese story that highlights that we don’t really understand what things really are. What you consider to be a disappointment right now may be a blessing, the lay-off might be a setup for starting your entrepreneurial journey, the infertility might be to teach you patience, the loss of a loved one might be to remind you of your mortality and the need to have a sense of urgency. When we are going through hard times, it is tough to see the lessons and the message because of our hurt, pain, and despair.
Once upon a time, there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years.
One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically, “you must be so sad.”
“We’ll see,” the farmer replied.
The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it two other wild horses.
“How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed! “Not only did your horse return, but you received two more. What great fortune you have!”
“We’ll see,” answered the farmer.
The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “Now your son cannot help you with your farming,” they said. “What terrible luck you have!”
“We’ll see,” replied the old farmer.
The following week, military officials came to the village to conscript young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “Such great news. You must be so happy!”
The man smiled to himself and said once again.
Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems, wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenge, wish for more wisdom. – Jim Rohn
Your setback is a setup for your Comeback
Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart and the Patriarch of the Walton family, in his autobiography: Sam Walton – Made in America, shares a great story about how some disappointments can be a blessing.
Tough Beginning: Landlord Issue -Made in America
With the sales volume growing from $80,000 to $225,000 in three years, Walton drew the attention of the landlord, P. K. Holmes, whose family had a history in retail. Admiring Sam’s great success, and desiring to reclaim the store (and franchise rights) for his son he refused to renew the lease. The lack of a renewal option, together with the prohibitively high rent of 5% of sales, were early business lessons to Walton. Despite forcing Walton out, Holmes bought the store’s inventory and fixtures for $50,000, which Walton called “a fair price”.
“It was the low point of my business life. I felt sick to my stomach. I couldn’t believe it was happening to me. It really was like a nightmare.”
In all my excitement at becoming Sam Walton, merchant, I had neglected to include a clause in my lease which gave me an option to renew after the first five years. And our success, it turned out, had attracted a lot of attention. My landlord, the department store owner, was so impressed with our Ben Franklin’s success that he decided not to renew our lease—at any price—knowing full well that we had nowhere else in town to move the store.
He did offer to buy the franchise, fixtures, and inventory at a fair price; he wanted to give the store to his son. I had no alternative but to give it up. But I sold the Eagle Store lease to Sterling—so that John Dunham, my worthy competitor and mentor, could finally have that expansion he’d wanted.
The whole thing was probably a blessing. I had a chance for a brand-new start, and this time I knew what I was doing. Now, at the age of thirty-two, I was a full-fledged merchant; all I needed was a store.
We found an old store willing to sell—Harrison’s Variety Store—but we needed to double its size, and to do that we had to get a ninety-nine-year lease on the barbershop next door (no more five-year leases for me).
In his Autobiography, Bloomberg by Bloomberg, American Businessman and Politician Micheal Bloomberg writes:
If I had not gotten thrown out of Salomon Brothers, I’d never have founded our company. If I’d been thrown out later, the opportunity to compete against those distracted growing giants would have been less, and our success would probably have been diminished. Suppose I hadn’t been accepted at Johns Hopkins or Harvard Business School, or met Sue, or found just the right people to work at Bloomberg, or had the same college friends, or safely landed that helicopter or that plane. My life would be very different.
Work hard. Share. Be lucky. Then couple that with absolute honesty. People are much more inclined to accept and support someone they think is “on the level.
In Think and Grow Rich, Author Napoleon Hill writes about disappointments and success:
Temporary defeat should mean only one thing, the certain knowledge that there is something wrong with your plan. Millions of men go through life in misery and poverty, because they lack a sound plan through which to accumulate a fortune.
Thomas A. Edison “failed” ten thousand times before he perfected the incandescent electric light bulb. That is– he met with temporary defeat ten thousand times, before his efforts were crowned with success.
Edison, the world’s greatest inventor and scientist, was a “tramp” telegraph operator, he failed innumerable times before he was driven, finally, to the discovery of the genius which slept within his brain.
Helen Keller became deaf, dumb, and blind shortly after birth. Despite her greatest misfortune, she has written her name indelibly in the pages of the history of the great.
John Bunyan wrote the Pilgrim’s Progress, which is among the finest of all English literature, after he had been confined in prison and sorely punished, because of his views on the subject of religion.
Charles Dickens began by pasting labels on blacking pots. The tragedy of his first love penetrated the depths of his soul, and converted him into one of the world’s truly great authors. That tragedy produced, first, David Copperfield, then a succession of other works that made this a richer and better world for all who read his books.
Robert Burns was an illiterate country lad, he was cursed by poverty, and grew up to be a drunkard in the bargain. The world was made better for his having lived, because he clothed beautiful thoughts in poetry, and thereby plucked a thorn and planted a rose in its place.
Booker T. Washington was born in slavery, handicapped by race and color. Because he was tolerant, had an open mind at all times, on all subjects, and was a DREAMER, he left his impress for good on an entire race.
Beethoven was deaf, Milton was blind, but their names will last as long as time endures, because they dreamed and translated their dreams into organized thought.
No matter what you are going through in life, be grateful for life because when there is life, there is hope. Do not let success get into your head, and do not let failure get into your heart. We humans always aim for what we do not have, but we hardly give gratitude for what we have presently. A five-minute gratitude journal is a great tool that allows you to journal the things you are grateful for in life; it has been transformational for me personally.
In his Autobiography, Call Me TED, Media Mogul Ted Turner, the Cable News Network (CNN) founder, writes about the need to show gratitude in every situation you find yourself in and how this practice can be therapeutic. He Writes
For me, it brought back sad memories of my sister, Mary Jean, another innocent child who was taken from us. It was a terrible time for our family and with the other problems that I faced, it was almost too much. I developed anxiety that was worse than anything I’d experienced before. When I lost my sister and my father I was able to channel my energies into work and my sailing career. But I was now retired from competitive sports and my hands were tied behind my back as the company I built went in a nosedive.
Nearly all of my life I’ve slept like a log, but now I was tossing and turning almost every night. Eventually, I came up with a technique that helped. After spending my days dealing with all the things that were going wrong, at night I’d put my head on the pillow and try to think about the things I was thankful for, especially my family. In my mind, almost like a slide show, I’d picture my children and their families and think of each of their names. I’d start with the oldest, Laura, and picture her, then her husband, then their kids. Then I’d go to Teddy, the next oldest, and do the same with him and his family. Once I’d worked through Rhett, Beau, Jennie and their children, I’d go back in the reverse direction. Picturing my family helped calm me and cleared my head of worries as I slowly drifted off to sleep.
Keep Moving Forward
I also keep my sights set on the future and don’t spend much time dwelling on the past. I’ve had some tough experiences as a child and have had my share of business and personal setbacks, but sitting around thinking about them isn’t going to change anything. Someone once said that I was a good winner but a better loser. When I have a setback, I put it behind me as fast as I can and keep moving.
I don’t play golf but I compare the way I respond to disappointments to the way a golfer does after he hits his drive into the water. He doesn’t walk down to the pond, dive in, dig out his ball, examine the ball, and ponder what happened. Instead, he takes another ball out of his bag, tees it up, and keeps on playing. After a disappointment I always try to bounce back and I’ve no doubt that this has helped me tremendously.
Life can be rough and tough with its twists and turns, but you have to realize that everything in life is transient. Nothing lasts forever; the wound will heal, the mess has a message, the sun would rise tomorrow, this too shall pass, you have to keep believing and trusting the process, the universe, or whatever it is you believe in.
All the Best in your quest to get Better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.