We may picture ourselves, proud and happy, having achieved our dreams at last.
But these daydreams are as close as many people come to success.
Why is that? Because they have not been adequately prepared for defeat.
Defeat is a Step on the Way to Success
The United States is a culture where winning is celebrated and losing is looked upon as the ultimate shame. No one ever considers that defeat might simply be part of the journey to success.
Think about how a baby learns to walk. Does she stand up and toddle off with no mishaps? Of course not. When she finds the courage to walk independently, she often falls down. She may even cry a little or require the comfort of a parent's hug and kiss, but the she dusts herself off and starts off across the carpet again. The falls are all a part of learning how to walk.
Yet when we set goals for ourselves and fall on the way to meeting them, we often stay huddled up on the ground, believing that our dreams have collapsed around us.
It may sound like a contradiction in terms, but it's very true: To achieve success, you must anticipate times of defeat!
Very few of the successful people we celebrate and admire today had a smooth or easy path to fame and riches. Writing guru Stephen King, collected hundreds of rejection slips before his breakout novel, Carrie, was published.
Walt Disney once filed for bankruptcy. So did Donald Trump.
Thomas Edison, in his efforts to improve the light bulb, was defeated anywhere from 700 to 1000 times, depending on which version of the story you read. Asked about his "failures," Edison replied, "I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways do not work."
Playwright George Bernard Shaw perhaps put it best of all: "A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent in doing nothing."
If your path to success has been less than a smooth upward glide--and whose hasn't?--consider these three tips.
1. Always remember that a defeat is not a failure. A defeat is a temporary setback which can and must be overcome on your road to success.
2. Never be ashamed of your defeats. Instead respect them as valuable learning opportunities. If you are embarrassed about your mistakes and attempt to deny or conceal them, you will miss out on all the glorious lessons they can teach you.
3. Plan your comeback: Do something different. We've all heard the old quote that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing every time and hoping for different results. If you've had a defeat on your quest for success, don't make the same errors twice. Instead, decide what you will do differently when you are ready to get up and try again.
No matter how many times you've been defeated, success is still within your grasp. Don't ever give up on your dreams. They may be just around the corner, waiting for you to find them.