From time to time one our my students here in Colorado Springs will come to me asking to interview me for a school project. This is one that I received from turned out to be a good project for her and an Outstanding one for another person in our school. The same day that I answered these questions, another child training in our school went through something that this applied to. Hope it helps you as well.
1. Was there ever a time when you did not succeed? Tell me about it.
As a child, I did not succeed in a lot. Often times I would refuse to participate in activities due to my fear of possibly failing. To participate and not "succeed" would mean that I was proving to myself that I was a failure. As you can imagine that did not make me feel good about myself. My lack of confidence, categorized me as a "failure" not my work ethic. I didn't have to put in a work ethic because out of fear I simply would not participate.
As I became older I changed how I success. For example as a youth I tried out for a local basketball team called the falcons. I was faster than all the other players, I had more endurance and my defense was good. The only problem was that I could not make a basket. I had true NBA skills. The only difference is that the NBA I was talking about meant NO BASKETBALL ABILITY. As a matter of fact my shooting ability was bad that I told the coaches that the rules needed to change and they need to award points for just hitting the backboard...And I was serious. lol. Of course they were not going to change the rules just for me. I made it through the first round of cuts. I made it through the second round of cuts. I became more nervous as the last round of cuts came around. It was clear to see that there were others who made baskets while I was consistent in only one thing...missing. The list posted and as I walked up to the list, it was as I expected. I was cut. One of the coaches was standing by and called me over. “Isaac we cut a lot of kids before you who were better, but we kept you around do you know why? Because your hard work made the other kids work hard. It made them get better. Because of you others grew. You may look at yourself as being a failure because you didn’t make the team, but I look at you as being a success. Why, because because of you others were elevated, you made them better. So watch what you call success.”
That was when my perception changed. I may not be the best in all things. That doesn’t make me a failure, it only proves that I am normal.
I refocused and told myself that I would make the team next year. I played basketball as much as I could at the play ground. It didn't matter if it were raining or snowing, hot or cold, I worked at on my shots and my dribbling. I wish that I could say that all that hard work got me on the team the following year, but it didn’t. I wasn’t successful getting on that team, but I did make myself better and in that I was successful in becoming a better me.
At that time I also learned that just because I outwork someone, just because I may want it more, that does not mean that I am entitled to. Still sometimes my best still is not enough to make me better at all things. But, by working hard I did improve myself and I proved to myself that I can work hard.
2. Did you ever feel like giving up? If so what kept you going?
I still sometimes feel like giving up.
What keeps me going is knowing that not everything is about me. Someone may be struggling with something a lot worse than me. They see me quit over this little thing that I am facing. How does that empower them to push through what they are facing? It doesn't. I try to remember that many lessons are learned not just by participating but also by watching. Someone is watching you. Do you want to be the person that motivates them to continue or do you want to be the person who justifies their own quitting? For me, I want to motivate them to continue. My success then is not found just through my personal achievements and justifies, but it is also found within the accomplishments of others based upon the interaction with me. You see I grew up and acknowledged that not everything is about me.
Sure, when I trained hard and still was not the best. When I put in long hours of training and still it wasn't enough. When I would spend time in the books and still I did not understand. In all those things I wanted to quit. I felt defeated. But then I would ask myself "What can I do to be better"? I would construct a plan. The first step of that plan was seek someone with a greater knowledge than me in that particular topic or subject. Then with there help we would construct a plan to help me grow little by little. Then it was up to me to follow the plan, revise the plan, and complete the plan. In that I would find a measure of success.
When you feel like giving up ask yourself "What am I giving up on?" I am giving on up math? Why? Because you don't understand it. So seek someone who does. I am giving up on playing this instrument. Why? Because I am not good at it. So seek someone who is. Reevaluating and giving up are two different things. After doing all that I can, after seeking help, after completing the time frame required for me to grow, still I am not where I would like to be, then you can reevaluate, adjust, plan, implement, follow through, and finish. Giving up, however, is simply quitting, surrendering without exploring all options. In that is failure.
3. How did this shape you into the person you are today?
A person is defined not by bragging upon all the great things that he has done. Instead, a person is defined based upon what trials he faces and how he handles those adversities.
My trials of my youth shaped me to be better suited to face the challenges of the presented. It all began with how I chose to view success. It began with positive people taking a positive stand in my life as my mentors, telling me what I needed to hear even when I was not receptive to hearing it.
4. Through your mistakes what did you learn?
I am very thankful for my mistakes. The greatest learning comes from the mistakes we make. To make a mistake you must be an active participant.
I have made mistakes in life, that only means that I have participated in living life. This does not mean that I intentionally make bad choices and then call those mistakes. That is justifying bad behavior. We know what is right and what is wrong. We know that stealing is wrong, so to steal doesn’t mean that I made a mistake. It means that I made a BAD CHOICE.
A mistake is something that I participate in with the purpose of being uplifting to myself, another, or my community. However, through this participation I have in some way hurt, offended, or somehow held down or demeaned another unintentionally. If my heart was truly in the right place, but the outcome hurt someone or myself, then that is a mistake.
When I make the conscious choice to willingly participate in an activity that I know will cause harm to another person, their property, or myself, that is not a mistake that is a bad decision.
Through my mistakes and my bad decisions lessons should be learned. Both award the gift of growth. By accepting that my bad decision/choice led me to my current outcome offers me the ability to forgive myself, seek forgiveness from those I hurt, and accept a consequences for my actions. In this I grow.
Sadly, too often, people place the blame and fault upon someone else, or upon a circumstance instead of accepting the responsibility. With that decision a person never grows because they can never learn by repeatedly refusing to take accountability for their actions.
I am not defined by the mistakes I have made, unless I continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. Then, it is not a mistake, it is a choice that I am making. A person can be defined by their choices they continuously make because those repeated choices reveals the true nature of that persons personality and heart.
I am not defined by the bad choices I have made because I learned from them, sought forgiveness for them, and moved on from them. I am however defined by the manner in which I take responsibility for those mistakes and choices.
Choose wisely how you accept the mistakes, choices, and decisions that you make and have made. It is far better to be known as being successful for acknowledging your mistakes and moving on from them, then to be known as being successful at always blaming others for the choices and decisions that you have made.