“Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.”
We all know failure, don’t we? We certainly have no love for it. “But there is no greater teacher than failure,” something to that effect that’s been said time and again this century. Yoda said as such in The Last Jedi––and when Yoda says it, you best listen.
But the best of success didn’t just say it, they lived it. They know it personally. It’s the yin and the yang like Kylo and Rey: they complement each other in perfect proportion. How can you have success without failure? Likewise, how can you have failure without success?
Only if you quit. There are countless quitters like there is salt in the sea. Because it’s the easiest shortcut in the world. All you have to do is give up.
But people of success never took that shortcut. It was not in their ability to commit that sin for they believed in the prospect of victory more than the realization of defeat.
Enter Elizabeth Blackwell.
One Of A Kind
In 1849 Elizabeth Blackwell graduated from medical school at Geneva Medical College in New York. She was the first woman to attain a degree in any medical field. Being the 19th century, this was a grand achievement for a woman as women were not thought highly of in medicine, as in many other professions. Her success was naturally rife with controversy and distaste in a profession dominated by men.
But she had quite the journey before she graduated. In fact, she had sent papers to 29 different schools before she was even admitted to Geneva. All 29 rejected her. She went so far as to visit the schools in person to persuade them, and they all shot her down. Some advised her to dress in the guise of a man to receive the education she sought. But she shot that down.
When she was accepted at Geneva, it was by coincidence, not by merit or precedent. The faculty, by the backing of the dean, put her admittance up for vote: if any of the students objected, just one, she would be denied. But all 150 of them voted yes––because they thought it was a joke! Under the veneer of a joke she got in.
She made good on that “mistake.”
In spite of several MDs refusing to work with her through her studies and patients ostracizing her, she overcame and came out on top. She earned the respect of some of her peers, wrote her thesis on typhus fever and ranked first in her class. She was the last to receive her degree, but it mattered not, for she had graduated when no one thought she could.
Elizabeth achieved something that no other woman yet had. On top of that, she opened a clinic for poor women and children, helped to establish the U.S. Sanitary Commission under the auspices of Abraham Lincoln, founded a medical college for women, and wrote an autobiography, Pioneer Work in Opening the Medical Profession to Women.
She was both prolific and successful.
It says something about the human character when one refuses to accept anything but the realization of their goals. That builds character. You better believe that adversity, prejudice and rejection were all in attendance to hound Elizabeth throughout her career; to compel her to accept defeat: it’s what society wanted.
Think about it, in that era, the 19th century, women were second-class citizens, deemed by the country at large to be far inferior to men (and in some respects that hasn’t necessarily changed). Their place was the homestead, anything outside of that was taboo. For a woman to attempt to overcome that bigotry, sexism and just plain hate that would meet her at the gate, that would shun her and obstruct her at every chance it got, that would try so mightily to put her back in her place, would be a seemingly asinine risk of the time.
But that was the risk Elizabeth Blackwell bet her career and her reputation on. More importantly, it was a risk she did everything for to make certain it paid off.
She failed, yes, seen played out in the numerous rejections she received. We as a society consider rejection failure. Someone of perceived authority has decided we aren’t worthy of acceptance, therefore we don’t have the chops. None of us like the word nor the busted pride that comes with. Who willingly seeks out rejection?
Nobody. But it’s a part of life. It’s a test of character. And there are those who recognize it for what it’s not: a be all end all. We just make it feel that way because it’s a tough pill to swallow.
We want to be rewarded, and most critically, assured: assured that what we’re pursuing is our natural, god-given aspiration aligned with who we are as human beings. It’s a risk we want to see paid off.
You’ve probably heard of the guy Jack Canfield, or at least his book, Chicken Soup for the Soul, which was rejected a whopping 144 times before it was accepted. It has since sold ten million copies worldwide and is now a billion dollar brand.
It goes to show that failure brought about by rejection is nothing it’s chalked up to be. It’s only a matter of perspective––that’s what matters, not the rejection itself. I believe Marcus Aurelius put the idea together with the best choice of words when he wrote,
“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”
Failure isn’t a blockade as so much it is an opportunity. Use that opportunity to advance forward, don’t you fall back. Elizabeth Blackwell used it to break down the gender barrier in medicine and to propel herself into a career of assisting others. She used it to build up her character in the face of adversity and to see rejection for its real worth. If one door shut, no bother, there was always another door she could try, and would try, until she found success. Her will to succeed was far greater than what any word or any rejection might do.
And the reason for how is simple: she believed in herself. That is how “what stands in the way becomes the way” becomes feasible––because you won’t give up. Failure may throw you a callous curve ball, but with belief in oneself it will never be definitive. You will find a way to overcome because you will simply find that way. As long as it stands, belief in the self is literally indestructible.
If you’re a creator and have created something you care about, though belief must naturally rest in that creation, belief must ultimately rest in yourself for you are the creator: the created won’t create itself, so skill, confidence, knowledge and the belief that you have what it takes to succeed must be applied.
It starts with defining your goals and recognizing the paths that will help you reach them. Then you must develop the mindset. Why? Because the deliverance of success is brought about by a disciplined frame of mind. It does not happen by chance.
Belief is all about having the mindset, nothing more, nothing less. You have belief, you have a mindset, and if not, you don’t. That mindset can be developed to your advantage, of which failure will be helpless against.
You better believe every person of success had that mindset. There is no better example than sports stars. Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Rafael Nadal, Aaron Rodgers, these aficionados and more go/went into each game with a mentality set to win. They do not want to lose. They hate losing more than they love winning. Any great competitor does.
But of course they lost. They understand failure intimately. But they never let it own them. That mindset is why. To win a game––to win anything––is an effort. To win a championship is a process. Success is a process. To be attained you must have a mindset born from belief: it must come from within. All sports champions had it, verily, regardless if they were one-hit wonders or perennial sellers. This is what Elizabeth Blackwell did for herself more than anything, and though luck was a factor, had she relied on it, she would have quit long before she succeeded.
It’s simply put así: If you believe in yourself, failure will never overtake you, thus will you scoff at the prospect of quitting. You must hate the prospect of quitting as much as an athlete hates losing.
That’s as good a mindset as any.
Hey, before ya go, check out the video below. Trust me, it’s well worth your time.