Did you hit a baseball the first time you swung that bat? The best baseball players, the ones with .300 averages, failed 70 percent of the time.
Every baseball fan knows that Babe Ruth hit 714 home runs, but they probably won’t be able to tell that he struck out 1,330 times. R.H. May failed in seven different business endeavors before his store in New York caught on. English Novelist John Creasy got 753 rejection slips before he published his 564 books. Jonas Salk worked for fifteen years before he found vaccine for polio. That was fifteen of continuous failure for one success.
The next time I feel like quitting, I remember this story.
At age 22 he failed in business. At age 23, he ran for state legislature and lost. At age 24 he failed in business again. At age 26, his sweetheart died and he was broken-hearted. At age 27, he had a nervous breakdown; he eventually regained his health running for Congress at age 34, and was defeated. At age 39, he ran for Congress again, and lost gain. At age 46, he ran for senate and lost. His ticket lost when he ran for vice-president at age 47. At age 49, he ran for senate again, and was defeated. At age 51, he ran and was elected to the Office of President of the United States. His name was Abraham Lincoln.
Some of the world’s greatest pioneers – people whose ideas and achievements propelled towards progress and civilization – were failures themselves. Perhaps the most prominent example of our times is Bill Gates, founder of the computer titan Microsoft. Gates, a Harvard dropout, is now among the world’s foremost billionaire and industry leaders.
Just make up your mind that if you try anything worthwhile, you will fail at first. Learn something and try again.
The Prophet Muhammad (saw) was compelled to quit Makkah and stayed at Madinah – the city that took its place in history of the spreading of Islam with lightning speed. Now, look at the benefit to mankind. He had to struggle against tremendous odds for a third of his lifetime. He had difficulty even to convince close family members and friends. He was vilified in Makkah, chased out in Taif, and had to escape to Madinah his enemies wanted to kill him. He lost and won battles, was seriously wounded and was betrayed by some of his own followers. But we know he succeeded. He succeeded because of his tenacity and his patience. He did not just pray for divine help but for 23 long years, he worked hard and when he died as all mortals must die. He had set Islam on such a firm footing that 1.3 billion people still adhere to Islam.
Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal was imprisoned, severely tortured and flogged, yet he emerged triumphant becoming the Imaam of the Sunnah.
Imam ibn Taymiyyah was put into prison; he came out even more accomplished scholar. Imam As-Sarakshi was kept as a prisoner at the bottom of a deserted well and he managed therein to produce twenty volumes on Islamic jurisprudence.
Success and failure have the root – the desire to achieve but avoiding failure is not the same as achieving success. Failure is determined by what you allow to happen, success what you make happen.
There will be a plenty of times when we’ll face the death of our dreams. When failures, disappiontments, and criticisms come, we need the will and faith to keep going. We learn far more from our failures than our successes because failures show what doesn’t work. So failure is just one step closer to ultimate successes.