This is the fifth article of a seven part series.

Step 5: Fail upward with focus

Tough times don’t last, tough people do

There are going to be tough times, and you have to be prepared for that. If you want to find people without any problems, head down to the cemetery. Then you’ll see that your problems probably aren’t so bad. A setback is a set-up for comeback. Along the journey up the mountain, you’re going to have to fail upward, not downward. Are you going to let your circumstances dictate your attitude or are you going to let your attitude determine your circumstances? Only you can make that decision. You have to see every failure as a step toward success. When Thomas Edison was asked how he felt after failing over ten thousand times to make the light bulb, he said, “I didn’t fail ten thousand times. I found out ten thousand ways not to make the light bulb.” That’s what I mean by failing upward on your quest. Don’t get discouraged when tough times appear—get encouraged. As the philosopher Seneca once said. “It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness.”

Detours are allowed, stopping is not

There are going to be mistakes. A coach once told me that if you’re not making a number of mistakes a day, you’re not trying enough. So embrace your mistakes as lessons of what not to do, not as reasons to stop. A mistake may cause you to change course or even take a step backward, but there’s not ever a reason to stop or quit. Mistakes are a gift. They allow you to reflect on what you’ve done, and they give you a chance to improve your strategy. If you’re always doing this on your journey, any step downward will always lead to two steps up.

Do what works—don’t do what doesn’t. Always see if there’s something better out there. Your climb to the top is not an issue of try, try again, but try another way if something isn’t working. As the great conqueror Hannibal once said, “We must either find a way or make one.” That is the way that you keep failing upward.

The most important thing is to make the most important thing the most important thing

You can’t get to the top of the mountain if you can’t ever decide which path to stay on. To get to the top, you have to focus. Thomas Edison was once asked if he thought he was a genius. Edison replied, “I am not a genius. I just have a great ability to focus. Most people focus on many things each day, and I only focus on one. Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety nine percent preparation.”

So it’s not about your intelligence but your diligence. Work on it. The ability to focus will help you avoid distraction and keep you from losing sight of the goal. This next story will show you the importance of focusing to reach your goal.

There was once a swimmer who was trying to swim a channel in record time. Since it was foggy that day, the swimmer was unable to see the coast and lost sight of her goal. This caused her to focus on her pain and fatigue, which caused her to give up with little distance to go. A year later, she came back, and with renewed focus, broke the record.

Remember that if you try to chase two rabbits, you’re not going to catch either one!