While there are many important traits of successful people — you better be really smart, most are quite likable, creativity helps, great interpersonal skills are frequently important, good luck sure helps — no trait is probably more important than resiliency and its cousin, tenacity. As my partner, Arnie, used to frequently say, “Lots of people can succeed during good times. The key is being able to endure the tough times and navigate your way through them, so you have a chance to succeed in the good times.”
Did you know that R.H. Macy failed at four stores before ultimately succeeding at what became known as Macy’s Department Stores? I recently heard it said, Fail + Fail + Fail = Success. Shawn Achor described it in The Happiness Advantage as “failing up.” Successful people learn from their mistakes and use them to help them succeed, rather than dwell on them and allow the mistakes to bring them down. Winston Churchill said, “Never, never, never give up.” This attitude was critical to England in WW2.
Did you know that George Washington was thisclose to losing the Revolutionary War? Without his ability to bounce back from defeats and his determination to help ensure a free and independent United States of America, we might be a completely different country today. The same was true for Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant at the time of the Civil War.
I saw a great movie, the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel that summed it up well … “Everything will be OK in the end. And if it’s not, it’s not the end.”
Lastly, I leave you with a thought from my youngest daughter, Erin, who passed this on during a challenging time for me. She said, “Dad, at any given moment, you have the power to say, ‘This is not how the story will end.’” If I am resilient enough … and determined enough … I can create whatever ending I want. More shall be revealed.
Editor’s Note: This is Dave Sackman, LRW’s CEO, fourth post in a series on the topic of success. You can read the first post in the series on the definition of success, the second on being curious, and the third on living life to the fullest.