Wipe Away Failure

Failure defines you in whatever manner you allow.

A familiar stunned silence accompanies personal catastrophe.

Your gut sinks when connecting your mistakes to the consequences–an entirely natural feeling.

Falling short trashes hopes and shatters dreams.

If you let the mess sit too long, it stains your life forever.

There’s a passage I read recently in What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell in which a financial analyst shares the story of the Essex, the Massachusetts whaleship which served as the inspiration for Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

After his wealth was decimated by a plummeting stock market, the man used the tale as motivation to rebuild:

…it turns out that the captain of the Essex, as soon as he got back to Nantucket, was given another job. They thought he did a good job in getting back after the ship was rammed…But then he was given the other ship, and that one foundered, too. Got stuck in the ice. At that time, he was a lost man. He wouldn’t even let them save him. They had to forcibly remove him from the ship. He spent the rest of his life as a janitor in Nantucket.

Overwhelmed by his broken confidence, the captain-turned-custodian resigned himself to die adrift–on land instead of sea.

The stock trader chose the opposite–persevering in the face of adversity. Facing a situation beyond his wildest nightmare, he utilized the circumstances for improvement.

He made the challenge a tool instead of an excuse.

The time will arrive to pursue a new course.

You can wander directionless into the abyss of deepening discontent or focus your energy toward an uplifting destination.

Your soul can mop floors or sail the high seas.

Only you decide where you’re headed.


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8 Responses to “Wipe Away Failure”

  1. 1 Britt June 23, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    It’s unfortunate that when we face a little adversity in our lives, we tend to react more like the Essex captain than the stockbroker. We may not realize our full potential, but at least we won’t take a risk that will cause us to fall again. I’ll admit that in the past, I have also acted with the same mindset as the Essex captain, but hopefully I can be more like the stockbroker in the future.

    • 2 Jason Eichacker June 24, 2010 at 12:20 am

      The key, I think, is to accept risk and carry on despite it. There’s a certain level of “danger” with everything we do–what matters is stepping forward and trying again when the first attempt fell short. Allowing unwanted results to crush us is what leaves us unfulfilled.

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