MOTIVATION & INSPIRATION
By Deion Sanders with Tejado W. Hanchell, Ph. D
“Experience is the best teacher.” We hear this statement often, yet many of us don’t realize that it is rarely the warm and fuzzy moments in our lives that we learn from the most. Usually, our greatest life lessons come through our worst experiences. In short, we learn most from our failures. Perhaps another way to say our opening statement is that “FAILURE is the best teacher (or preacher).” In other words, failure is a gift.
Now, I know that we don’t usually think of failure as a gift. None of us wants to find failure neatly wrapped and waiting for us under the Christmas tree. No one ever sets out to fail. Well, at least you and I haven’t. There are no best-selling books on “10 Steps to Failure”, but everyone who has ever found success has had to walk through the waters of failure. Show me a successful person, and I guarantee that he or she experienced some form of failure before they reached the pinnacle of success. In fact, failure does not PREVENT success…in most cases it PRECEDES it. *Now, I’m preaching!*
In the sentence of life, failure is a COMMA – not a PERIOD. Failure should cause us to pause and reflect, but it should never cause us to stop! There have been many times that I experienced failure in my life. It was those moments that allowed me to pause, reflect, and then move forward. If I had stopped at my point of failure, I suspect there would be no Pro Bowls, Super Bowls, Truth Youth Organization, PrimeU Prep Academies, or Hall of Fame.
All of us have the potential to make it to the “Hall of Fame of Life”, but the road to the Hall of Fame is usually littered with obstacles, naysayers, haters and doubters. Like Judas, some of them are close enough to dip with you then turn around and KISS you. They’d rather see you in the “Hall of Failure.” However, we must LEARN from our failures and not LIVE in our failures. Failure is a great teacher, preacher, and motivator, but it is a terrible landlord! (TRUTH!) We must learn the LESSON…but keep on PRESSIN’ without STRESSIN!
Here are four lessons I’ve learned about failure:
Failure does not make YOU a failure.
Many people feel that just because they have failed, that makes them a failure. Nothing could be further from the TRUTH. You may have made a mistake, but that does not make you a mistake. When we understand the difference between experiencing failure and being a failure, it opens the door to success. Many people never succeed because they are too afraid to fail. When you realize that failure is NOT who you are, you are free to fail – which, paradoxically, means that you are free to succeed.
Failure is the INCUBATOR of INNOVATION.
The greatest ideas and inventions often are a direct result of failure. Failure helps us to focus so that we don’t make the same mistakes over and over again. I remember being beat for a touchdown by Art Monk early in my career. I was backed off of him about 8 yards and playing cautiously. He ran a stop and go, and I didn’t even look back because I knew it was 6. When I got to the sideline my coach asked me what happened. All I could say was “He got me.” But after I said that, I immediately said to myself “If he get me again it would have to be my way. I’m gonna ‘bump and run’ till the cows come home.” The rest is history. Sometimes in life, we’ve got to be willing to bump and run.
Failure points you in the DIRECTION of your DESTINATION.
Failure is like your own personal GPS. It lets you know when you’ve made a wrong turn and helps recalculate your route so you can get back on track. The problem comes when we think we know better than the GPS and continue traveling down the wrong road. We must learn to listen to our failures because they have a lot to tell us. Sometimes we have to change direction in order to make it to our destination. I had to change direction over 10 years ago and walk with God and not the enemy because where I was headed wasn’t a good place…and I had a lot of people following me. Publicly I was a success, but privately I struggled. Be careful who you choose to follow and where they’re leading you.
Failure is NOT forever.
Failure is a temporary stop – not a permanent sojourn. For my race fans, failure is like a pit stop in NASCAR. When a driver has to “pit” it seems like it’s a failure. He could be leading the race at the time, but when he pits, all the other drivers pass him. He loses his place in the race – but it’s only temporary. While he is seemingly falling behind, or failing, in the race, the driver is refueling. He may even change his BRIDGESTONE tires (I had to include that – you’ll see soon). The driver uses the temporary “failure” of the pit stop to get what he needs to succeed. It is important for us in the long race of life that we use the temporary pit stops of failure to refuel, refocus, and reevaluate our lives so we can get what we need to succeed. They key is to not stay in the “pits” too long. All drivers have to pit at some point. We all fail at some point, but the race is often won by the person who can get out of the pit the fastest.
Learn from your failures, and you’ll be able to teach others how to succeed! That way, failure becomes the gift…that keeps on giving!
Truth, PrimeU Prep Academies…and YOU…we’re all high-stepping into 2012!
Tejado W. Hanchell