How I Turned My Stumbling Blocks into Stepping Stones

(Brilliant speech by Michelle Obama. Video credit: 3S Dream Power)

Leadership Guru Peter Drucker says, “The better a man is, the more mistakes he will make, for the more new things he will try. I would never promote to a top level job a man who was not making mistakes…otherwise he is sure to be mediocre.”

Failure is the mother of success. Indeed, mistakes do pave the road to accomplishment.

When I was 11 years old, I was a playful kid. A teenager who was not academically inclined. I was lazy and was uninterested in my studies, I made no effort in my school work. Needless to say, I failed miserably in all my exams. I was placed almost last in class position. Some of my teachers, classmates, friends and close relatives began to mock at me and looked at me differently (in a negative way). I was labeled as a ‘good for nothing’ girl and ‘never would amount to anything.’ Some even called me stupid and useless. I was devastated, crushed emotionally and it was perhaps the darkest period of my teenage life. On hindsight, I am grateful for those people who had humiliated me, because of my deep devastation has turned into one of my best wake up call.

I came to a realization that for things to change, I had to CHANGE. I decided to change my attitude towards life and take personal responsibility towards my downfall. I became very committed and determined. I reminded myself to be diligent and every day I would burnt the midnight oil to study until past midnight. I said no to social gatherings and television programmes. I put in my heart and soul towards my school work. I managed to progress gradually. My only goal was to pass all my exams, however, beyond my expectation, after four years, I was top in class. My initial failure was an awakening that pushed me toward greater maturity. It was the signpost that directed me to personal responsibility and growth. Failures can be explorations that allow us to journey where we have never been before. Mistakes are keys that we can use to unlock the door of our potential.

Setbacks are inevitable in life. A setback can act as an engine to move you forward and also teach us humility. In our struggles, we will find courage and faith to overcome setbacks. We need to break free from victim mentality and be a victor.

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Life is a series of outcomes. Sometimes the outcome is what we want, sometimes the outcome is not what we want. If we get a favorable outcome, that’s great ! Figure out what you did right. If the outcome is not what you want, that’s fine too! Figure out what you did so you will fine tune or make adjustments until you get a favorable outcome. The key is never quit. When something is not working as it should, try a different approach. Successful people persist consistently until they achieve their ultimate goals.

Life is eternally moving. Either we advance or we regress. There is no standing still. Only you can choose the direction of your life. No one can or should be making that choice for you.

Fear of failure may leads to not taking action. Procrastination impedes growth. Continual fear and inaction rob a person of self improvements and growth.

President John F Kennedy once said, “There are risks and costs to a program of action, but they are far less than the long range risks and cost of comfortable inaction.”

A person can fall down many times, but he is not a failure until he blames his fall on someone else. We can only grow and learn through taking personal responsibility.

If you can step back from the negative circumstances facing you, you will be able to discover their positive benefits. Do not take adversities you are experiencing too personally. Let today be the day that you turn the hurts of your past into a breakthrough for the future.

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