“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” — Confucius
I’ve failed more times than I’d like to admit. I’ve succumbed to defeat and upset. I’ve had my life upended and shattered into a million little pieces. But somehow, one way or another, I got through it. I traversed through tough times. But I always emerged on the shores of hope. I knew there was light at the end of the tunnel. I just couldn’t find my way there. I clawed and clamored and grit my teeth, bearing immense amounts of pain. At one point, it was almost too much to handle. In fact, I had given in. I had relented and given up. I thought it was the end. But apparently it was just a new beginning.
Today, I would never take it back. I wouldn’t take back the pain or the anguish or the feelings of guilt and resentment. I just wouldn’t. In fact, those experiences shaped me. They molded me into the human being that I am today. My greatest glory wasn’t that I never failed. It was that I rose every time I did fall. That’s why this quote means so much to me. I never realized the validity of failure until I realized they had guided me to where I am today. If it wasn’t for that pain, I wouldn’t be where I am today and I wouldn’t be sharing all of this with you.
You see, so many of us think that failure is the end of the road. We think that just because we failed, we’re not worthy of continuing. Nor are we worthy of any semblance of happiness. We beat ourselves up and rob ourselves of any satisfaction. It leaves us completely devoid of glee. Instead, we’re empty. Desolate. Barren. We cannot see the forest through the trees. All we see are the wildfires that are raging in our lives. Those conflagrations seem to burn endlessly, never to dissipate. But I will say this to you. The greatest fires of your life, might burn you asunder. But they will also create ripe ground enabling the greatest growth of your life.
Our Greatest Glory Is Not In Never Failing
I’ve become a student of failure. I’ve obsessed over it. I’ve studied those who’ve failed with a relentless pursuit. I’ve made it my mission to understand what it means on a granular level. You see, even the most famous people in the world have failed. In fact, they’ve failed far more than anyone else. Not only were those failures major, they were largely very public. But what they didn’t do was give up. Sure, you will fail in life. But the only way you can truly fail is if you give up your pursuits entirely.
Now, I’m not just telling you this blindly. These words have real meaning to me. They mean so much in fact that I can still remember the tremendous amount of pain that I felt when my life came crashing down all around me. I remember it falling apart into a million little pieces and thinking that this was it. It was my time. No more road left ahead. And I peered down from the edge of the cliff ready and willing and able to jump into oblivion. But something held me back. It was a force from within. Something beyond my reach or my comprehension.
Whether you believe in God, Allah, Buddha or just the spiritual oneness that binds us all, there is something out there. I know that God let me fall. But He also picked me back up again. I know that there was a reason for those failures, as painful as they were. While staring out from the 47th floor, with epic landscapes, I realized that my life had imploded. And in those first few weeks, I wanted so badly to end it all right then and there. But I didn’t. I retreated. I backed up. And I gathered myself slowly but surely.
That is why this quote by Confucius means so much to me. As one of the greatest philosophers of our time, there’s good reason for why he said this. When you read it, and you truly understand it, it makes complete sense. Especially when you look backwards on your life at the failures of the past. When he said that our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall, he described the journey that we all go through in life to succeed. He also highlighted the importance of persistence.
How To Rise Every Time You Fall
I remember feeling the crushing sting of defeat every single time that I failed. I remember what that did to me. While it wasn’t a physical event, it certainly had major implications on my body. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t breathe at times. And I certainly didn’t feel like speaking or socializing with anyone. I was done. So I retreated into my introverted shell. I didn’t want anyone to see me. I was embarrassed beyond words. But I did rise every time I fell. And you can too. Yet, the best way to tell you how you can do it, is to break it down for you into bite-sized steps.
So here’s the question. How do you do it? How do you get up when you just want to stay knocked out? How do you avoid getting counted out? When everything inside of your is screaming to throw in that towel, how do you give just one more try? Look. I know it’s hard. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it isn’t. But there is a path forward. It’s not the path of least resistance. That’s for certain. But it is the path of most fulfillment. Maybe not right away. But definitely over time. I can promise you that.
1. Create A Gratitude List
As human beings, we’re often not grateful for what we have. In fact, we’re ungrateful. We take things for granted. Why? Because we expect a certain level of something in our lives. Whether that something means love or money or achievement or anything else. But that’s not enough. The status quo isn’t good enough. So we keep pushing and striving for more, always trying to reach higher heights. And when we fall back down to the ground, we’re often filled with resentment and guilt.
We don’t look back and thank God for that experience. Instead, we look back with scorn. Amidst that defeat, we feel depleted. And we question ourselves. Was it all for nothing? Why did we try so hard? Why did we keep going in the face of great defeat only to be knocked down again? Was it worth it? Of course it was. But when you’re walking through that pain, it certainly doesn’t feel like it. It feels like daggers going through your heart. It feels like millions of needles poking you relentlessly just to watch you bleed.
But here’s the thing. There is so much to be grateful for. Okay, you might have failed in your endeavor. But you have so much. There is so much to be grateful for if we just stop to appreciate it. Literally, if we just smell the roses, we’ll realize that life isn’t about the destination. Life is about the journey. So be grateful for what you have now. Even if you think you have nothing. You do. Make a list of it. Write it down. Go into details. I’m talking about the air in your lungs. The heart beating in your chest. Your liver. Your kidneys. Your lungs. The white blood cells. The veins. The language you can speak. All of it.
2. Discover Your Purpose
Sure, you might have failed. But you can’t expect life to be perfect. You can’t expect there to be no failures. Everyone fails. But not everyone stands back up after a major failure. If you want to not only survive, but also thrive, then you need to find purpose. Discover your purpose in life. What is it? What can you do that will make this world a better place? What type of value can you add to the lives of others? Life is not just about making more money or achieving thing related goals. Forget your shiny objects and Hedonic Treadmill. Discover your purpose.
Don’t know how? Find something greater than you. Because, here’s the truth. You will always do more for others than you will for yourself. So what’s going to drive you? What’s going to propel you forward? You have to discover what that is if you want to make a lasting impact in this world. Otherwise, you will never rise after you fall. You will just find the easy way out and do the minimal amount of work. But you can’t do that. It won’t yield any results. It will leave you stuck in neutral unable to lurch forward in business or in life.
So how does this work? You have to find a strong enough reason why you want something. What’s going to propel you to wake up early every day and approach your goals with the same gusto months and years from now as you do today? It’s not just about inspiration or motivation in the here-and-now. You have to make it last. To do that you have to find a strong enough reason why you must succeed. I’m talking about something that’s more important than the air that you breathe.
3. Set SMARTER Goals
If you want to achieve big things in life, you have to set SMARTER goals. SMART goals are great. But SMARTER goals are better. What do I mean? When you set SMARTER goals, you follow a specific template for achieving the things that you really want in life. These goals are specific (S) and meaningful (M). They’re also achievable (A) and relevant (R) to your life. They’re also bound in time (T) and have deadlines for their achievement. I’m talking about real deadlines that exist on your calendar.
These are goals that you constantly evaluate (E) your progress towards. Just like an airplane evaluates its flight path, checking its altitude and speed and other factors every moment, you have to do the same. But, also like an airplane, you need to readjust (R) when needed. Don’t change the goals, change the approach. That’s how SMARTER goals work. While they won’t pick you up when you fall down, they will propel you forward and give you the moment to succeed. That’s why they’re so powerful.
4. Future Jump
Future jumping Is a way to vividly envision the future that you know you’re going to live. It’s very lucid in its approach. You almost trick yourself into thinking that you’re living that life. Not quite faking it until you make it. More like, envisioning it until you make it. However, this has to be done in a very specific way. And by doing it in this specific way, you will rise every time you fall. Not only that, but you will be so motivated and inspired all the time, that it will be nearly impossible to give up.
How does this work? Well, close your eyes for a moment. Imagine your life 5 years from now. What will you be doing? Where will you be working? What will your house look like? What about your car? What are you doing in your spare time? Are you reading? Surfing certain websites? Investing in certain things? What clothes are you wearing? Who are you married to? Do you have children? What are those children like? You have to go into great detail and picture every last part of it.
This is powerful beyond what we can understand as human beings. There is real power in our thoughts. Way past anything you could ever comprehend. Everything that you have in your life has been shaped by your thoughts. Your entire reality was manifested by it, in fact. And you can use that power at your discretion. You can bend and shape your reality at will. No, it’s not magic. It’s not a superhero power. It’s something we all have inside of us. Tap into it. Use it. Harness it. And use it to achieve your wildest dreams.