Daring To Fail Greatly

Amazing victories are often preceded by devastating setbacks. You can triumph over the agony of defeat.

When Halle Berry took the stage at the gleaming new Kodak Theatre to accept her Oscar for Best Actress, it was a moment of sweet triumph for us all. As the first black woman to achieve such a crowning success, she noted tearfully, “This moment is so much bigger than me.”

Surely, the intense emotion of the moment was heightened by the fact that Berry didn’t come to it easily. Her success was sweeter because she knew well the bitter taste of defeat.

Previously, Berry had been at a low point in both her career and her life. She’d suffered through a devastating divorce and her movie roles at the time were limiting, at best. Then, she faced a hailstorm of bad press after having a hit-and-run car accident. The damage: Her future–professional and otherwise–looked uncertain. But within a year, Berry had turned it all around, snagging Golden Globe and Emmy awards for her portrayal of Dorothy Dandridge. Before long, the negative press had taken on a golden glow as critics lauded her performance in Monster’s Ball, as well as her triumph over personal adversity.

Berry’s successful arc, and that of so many others, provides ample evidence that we all fail, and it is often in the depths of our failure that the seeds of success are sown. Those seeds, however, can only grow and later be harvested if you have the right attitude and take the proper actions.

“You know that saying, ‘Whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger’? Well, you only come out stronger if you use the crisis as an opportunity,” says William Guillory, president and CEO of Innovation International.

Guillory, author of The Living Organization: Spirituality in the Workplace (Innovations International, $14.95), insists, “responsibility for self is the fundamental power of all life.” Therefore, the first key to turning your failure into success is accepting responsibility for it, no matter how unfair or unreasonable it may seem.

This can be tough to do, especially in instances where we believe things happened to us that were completely beyond our control. Say, for example, you were laid off along with 100 others in your company, or your business folded after your three best clients were lost in the Sept. 11 tragedy.

In situations like these, we often feel more like victims than responsible parties. But Guillory insists that until we accept responsibility, we lack the self-motivation to move on. And self-motivation, Guillory says, is the root of sustained success.

It helps to understand that there’s a strong distinction between responsibility and blame. According to Guillory: “Blame assigns guilt. Responsibility assigns accountability. Blame perpetuates a victim’s stance. Responsibility stems from the notion that you are the principal source of everything that happens in your own life. Tell yourself, ‘My life is my movie. I write the script and create my own reality.’”

Next, Guillory says, look deep inside of yourself and assess your competencies. What do you know how to do? What skills and talents do you have to offer? Focusing on these personal assets will help

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