Success often comes at the tail end of hard work and overcoming setbacks. Have you ever heard someone say:
If at first you don’t succeed…
When I was younger I studied/taught martial arts. When I was discouraged my teacher would use a metaphor to illustrate that my failures were part of the path to success. He did this by illustrating how a samurai’s sword was formed. You see steel becomes stronger as you fold it with other materials to create layers that build strength and flexibility in the blade. Folded, fired, and hammered up to 16 times a samurai’s blade was formed through a difficult and stressful process by a master craftsman. Ultimately what is formed is a strong blade able to meet any challenge and conquer them successfully. When I began to teach (and when I had kids) I often like sharing this metaphor because it is a great object lesson about how to use life’s difficult moments to make us stronger.
Those who are willing and accepting of their mistakes are better equipped to learn from them.
As a father that is my job to make my kids stronger for the world that is out there waiting for them. This is my chance to help them understand the value of this forging process. It starts with knowing that you are not perfect, you will fail, and you can’t avoid it. Like the blade in the metaphor the first pass is not enough. You need to try again, be folded, fired, and reformed again and again. Until you are strong and flexible and ready to face the challenges that await.
So let’s take a look at 7 ways we can be a stronger person:
- Make Mistakes – I can’t emphasize this enough. Be willing to make mistakes, whether you are willing to or not you will make them. Those who are willing and accepting of their mistakes are better equipped to learn from them. They will treat them accordingly and will likely succeed sooner.
- Comparisons Lack Real Value – Too often we compare ourselves to others. That is wasting time that we could be putting in, to develop ourselves. We don’t know all the factors and all the steps they took to be as good as they are. Whether it is natural skill or hours of practice, the time we spend on the comparison steals time we could be developing our skills.
- Believe in Yourself – Be willing to stand up for yourself and what you believe in. This is easy when there is a large group that is with you, but it is more important when you are unpopular. Confidence can only be won in these challenging scenarios. When you have to stand up for your child against a school administration, a hospital, an insurance company, or many other challenging adversaries you’ll be glad you learned how to fight tough battles.
- Embrace Your Weaknesses – You have weaknesses, embrace them. You can’t minimize the effect of your weaknesses if you don’t know that you have them. So you need to understand them, be open about them, and treat them as much a part of you as your strengths.
- Look for Solutions – With rare exceptions, you are not the first person to deal with problems like yours. Which is good news! It means that someone else has been in your shoes. Someone else has figured out a solution to the problem you face. So instead of wallowing in self pity, look around to others you know. Ask for help, find the solutions, move on to new successes.
- Build a Network of Support – You need people. Nobody is an island, people that are the most successful have a group of people around them that want to help them succeed. These are people who will encourage you when times get tough, but will give you critique and correct you when you veer away from reaching your potential. It is important to have these people in your corner, it is also important to be this type of person for others as well.
- Learn From Your Past – You have lived a lot of life, your experiences have taught you lessons, don’t let them go to waste. Treat your past like a user manual for the future. Don’t remake mistakes from your past, you have figured those out. Go make new mistakes as you strive for your success.
Don’t remake mistakes from your past, you have figured those out. Go make new mistakes as you strive for your success.
Building the strength and flexibility necessary to be strong enough to face the world’s challenges is no easy task. You must be dedicated to yourself and your success. Don’t let the moment of struggle you are in prevent you from becoming the person you want to be. You must bravely be the steel in the hand of a master craftsman. Be ready and willing to be formed into a powerful blade beautiful strong and true.