THE UNITED STATES dominated America's Cup racing for 134 years until 1983. That year the Australians challenged the Americans and sailed Australia III to four straight victories over Dennis Conner's American entry. The defeat was devastating and humiliating. Determined to learn from the defeat, Dennis Conner built on the experience and won back the America's Cup in 1987.
CONNER SAID OF THIS GREAT achievement, "Winning the cup was a huge challenge. However, the greatest obstacle was not the race itself - it was rebounding from the initial failure."
IN THE EARLY SIXTIES, four young women set out to be professional singers. They performed in church and began doing small local concerts. When they finally got a chance to cut a record, it flopped. They tried again; another flop. They tried a third, fourth, fifth and so on through nine recordings - all failures.
THEY PERSUADED DICK CLARK to book them for his show early in 1964. However, he paid just enough to cover their expenses and the national exposure did little to advance their careers. Finally, in the summer of 1964, their newest recording Where Did Our Love Go? ran to the top of the charts. Driven by perseverance and a passion for success, this group once mockingly called the "No-Hit Supremes", achieved national recognition and prominence.
GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER and the residents of Coffee City, Alabama were nearly starving as a result of the boll weevil's destruction of the cotton crop in 1915. Choosing to work on solutions rather than complain about circumstances, Carver suggested growing peanuts instead of cotton. A brilliant chemist, Carver set about developing soaps, plastics, inks, chemicals and cosmetics from peanut derived substances. The community prospered and turned the cotton crop failure into opportunity. Carver's winning philosophy resonates in his statement, "Ninety-nine percent of the failures in life are the people who have the habit of making excuses."
AS THESE STORIES ILLUSTRATE, momentary failure needn't lead to ultimate defeat, but should actually pave the pathway to success. Momentary failure is a natural part of the wealth-building process. Failing occasionally is a constant in the success formula; choosing the correct response is the variable that makes all the difference. Conner rebounded, the Supremes persevered, Carver became creative. Henry Ford said, "Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently."
Failure, if properly viewed as a learning opportunity, creates a foundation for success. Confucius said, "Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall."
Get up, choose the correct response, and use small failures to achieve great success.