Oliver Napoleon Hill, one of America’s greatest writers about self-improvement, motivation, and success once said “In every adversity lies the seed of an equal or greater opportunity.” In achieving a difficult goal, Hill conceptualized that the greatest reward was not in reaching the goal, but instead was in the will to continue in the face of growing doubts bred from failures. Most importantly to note is that Hill did not state “failure.” Critical to his concept was the kinetic word “failures.”
Everyone can make a long list of failures throughout their life; hopefully. If all hopes and dreams were easily gained, they would have little satisfaction and soon be forgotten. But it is the exhausting roads and persistent belief that with each setback, with each refinement of imperfection and expectation that create the most astonishing most memorable life experiences – to perhaps cauterize a realization that life and death work together, not in conflict. Neither need be feared. Contrary to antiquated religious teachings, no ‘stand-in’ is required, no depraved condition exists within us unless it is taught, accepted or internalized, and manifested as less-than capable by one’s self-will and surrounded environment chosen. No, quite the opposite should be taught: failures are a good option!
Care to revisit some famous failures that came with some spectacular silver linings?
1492 – Geneon explorer Christopher Columbus never did make it to India’s spices and wealth, but instead found much more; so much more that it changed the entire world. *
1804-06 – Cartographers and explorers Lewis and Clark set out to find a water passage from Midwest America to the Pacific Ocean. No such route exists, however, they documented the land, people, plants and animals which led to the bargain-basement steal of the Louisiana Purchase. *
1896 – Nineteenth century German engineer Otto Lilienthal first pioneered glider-flight that soon inspired the Wright brothers to powered-flight in America. Days later Lilienthal was killed in a flying accident attempting to perfect his glider. *
1937 – During the latter stages of Women’s Suffrage, aviatrix Amelia Earhart vanished while attempting to fly around the Earth’s equator. Regarding women’s rights she was quoted earlier saying, “[women’s] failure must be but a challenge to others.” *
1940 – The Tacoma Narrows Bridge had only been completed 4-months prior to its collapse due to high winds. Wind impact had not yet been fully understood during construction. Following bridge designs around the world included stabilizing measures and construction. *
1946-56 – Discovery of the 972 texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Khirbet Qumran, Israel, convincingly showed a much more comprehensive portrait and subsequently more diverse Second Temple Jerusalem than was traditionally portrayed in the canonical Christian Gospels; further confirming the truer nature of Judaism as opposed to the warring oppressive Greco-Roman version of later early-Christian groups closer to Rome. For one example of the two 1st century CE severe divergences, read Sign of Jonah in Talpiot Tomb confirmed just this year.
1970 – The Apollo 13 lunar mission failed due to an oxygen tank explosion lethally damaging the flight crew’s breathing system and service module. However, with ingenious adaptation and resourcefulness NASA brought all astronauts back home safely and with several critical later spacecraft changes. *
1991 – Locking eight scientists in a sealed terrarium called Biosphere 2 did not go as planned: food shortages, bad air, and “crazy ants” cut it short. Columbia University then the University of Arizona has since used it for successful eco-bio research. *
1993 – The Apple Newton is recognized as Apple Corporation’s biggest failure. The personal electronic assistant expired after 6-years of mediocre sales, but led the way for today’s highly popular iPad. *
1998 – NASA launched the Mars Climate Orbiter to examine the Martian climate. After a 287-day journey and over-budget costs the probe likely incinerated in the Martian atmosphere. The problem? NASA used the metric system in its designs, but the engineering team at Lockheed Martin used English units of measure. Now regular Martian orbiters and land-rovers explore the red planet with feasible developing plans of mining, colonization, and making Mars a leap-frog point into deeper parts of our solar system. *
[ * – National Geographic Magazine, Sept. 2013]
On a more personal level, an intimate level, these concepts are ever truer for our relationships, especially in marriage and parenting a family. Some of our best virtues can be born and honed with a marital partner and raising messy failing succeeding children. And the more the better!
Failure and success coexist. Though we may have been taught they are dire enemies, they are really identical twins from the same mother: a life and death well-made and well told.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
If — by Rudyard Kipling
How many wonderful failures have you made this week? Was one of them epic? Profound?
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