Written by Scott Orth
The first time I can remember being picked back up had nothing to do with business. But it follows me and echoes in my mind every time I’ve ever had difficulty to deal with. I was a kid – maybe 10 years old. We were visiting friends (the Miller’s) where they lived, in Long Beach, WA.
One day, we were all riding their horses on a huge ranch. As a 10 year old, I was absolutely tiny compared to the large Mare I was placed upon. But my friend’s dad, the cowboy Mr. Miller, lifted me through the sky to set me atop the giant mare. It started off fine, I don’t think I had ever been on a horse prior to this day, but I remember a wonderful mixture of thrill and excitement for the chance.
I rode along for a few minutes, learning how to guide her and instruct her where I wanted to go; enjoying the gentle breeze as we walked along through a grass field that seemed to go on forever. I looked over my shoulder and saw Mr. Miller, now 50 yards or more away, leaning against a fence, watching over the other horses. I looked around the field and smiled. This was fantastic… but the joy I felt suddenly turned to fear.
My mare began to trot. Okay, pull back on the reigns and slow her down, I thought. She didn’t do as I instructed. Instead, she broke into a full gallop. I was frightened, of course, but I also had a sense that it would be okay. But suddenly she charged forward ever-faster. My heart was pounding because I no longer had control of this large beautiful beast. My life was now in her control – good or bad.
As we were flying across the field, and I was doing all I could to hold on, my saddle began to slide to the left. There was nothing I could do about it. The saddle weighed twice as much as me, so there wasn’t much chance I was going to heave it back into place while being bounced and tossed at a full-speed run.
I was screaming. Crying. Wind-streaked tears were running across my face in all directions. I had lost track of where I was; we weaved and turned – shot forward, and dashed to the right, then the left. I couldn’t see where we were. Partly because my eyes were glued to the saddle and my mare’s mane as my mind raced for options of survival. And partly because I was completely blurry eyed from the wind and tears (and bouncing).
I was quite-literately sideways on the horse as the saddle continued to slide downward, and I felt my grip weakening. I was going to fall. Suddenly my horse came to a screeching halt – and I was in the arms of Mr. Miller.
As he set me back on my feet, I wasn’t completely sure how Mr. Miller was there or even if I was truly still alive; but the thudding of my heart and weakness in my knees proved I must be. I ran.
I wanted to be as far away from that horse, or any horse, as I could possibly be. But Mr. Miller wouldn’t have it. He grabbed me by the arm as I tried to run and told me to get back on the horse.
I may have said words a 10 year old shouldn’t say. Friend or not… father-figure or not… you can go to hell if you think I’m getting back on that monster of a horse!
It’s been more than 25 years since I’ve seen Mr. Miller. But in my memory, he was a true man. A manly kind if man – and the kind of man a young boy looks up to. So when he knelt down and explained the importance of not letting fear direct you in life… It sunk in, and I listened.
He told me you can’t let fear rule you. If you let fear dictate your path, you’ll never get anywhere in life. You’ll let fear win. He said when you get knocked down; you’ve got to get back up. He said “when you fall of a horse, you gotta get right back on.” Funny thing is, at the time I didn’t know that was an old saying about getting back up when you’ve fallen. To me it was quite literal and I thought he simply meant on this day, I had to get back on the horse. Little did I know it was both literal and figurative, and would stay with me the rest of my life.
Mr. Miller walked me up to the horse and helped me back on. He said, “You’ve got to get back up there and show the horse you’re not afraid of her – Take a strong grip on the reigns and prove who’s in control.”
So I rode on. Eventually, the sun waned and it was time to go. But I ended up riding for hours more that day – and many times since. In the 30 years since that day, every time I have ever fallen or failed, I think of Mr. Miller and that day on the ranch when I literally did get back on the horse. And then I remember all I have to do, in any down-time or failure, is pick myself back up and get moving. Get a strong grip on the reigns and show them who’s in control.
I’ve seen a lot of failure and disappointment in my life – and I’m sure I’ll see more. My years in business have often felt like a roller-coaster, with serious highs and some significantly painful lows. But through all the ups and downs, I’ve learned a few things about how to pick yourself back up and keep pushing forward.
Learn to Let Go… It’s Okay to Fail
It doesn’t matter what caused the failure. Let it go. It may have been a mistake you made, or maybe it was some other circumstance that you couldn’t control. The point is, it doesn’t matter. Do your best not to blame. Don’t blame others… but most importantly, don’t blame yourself.
Try to remember that falling is a part of life. You fell a thousand times when you were a baby trying to walk, and probably a dozen or more times when you learned to ride a bike. You might say, ‘yeah Scott, but that’s not the same’. Yes it is. We spend our entire lives learning. And just like learning to walk, learning to ride a bike, learning a skill in school… you are learning every day of your life – and you WILL fall. But just as you did when you were a kid, you will pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again. That’s just what we do if we want to succeed.
There is No Success without Failure
Think of any person you know of who is successful. If they are famous enough, look them up. Read about their beginnings and how they got to where they are. I bet, no matter whom you choose, you’ll find that they struggled through failures before they succeeded.
Bill gates failed and watched his first company fall apart before he started Microsoft. Now he is one of the wealthiest people alive.
Walt Disney was fired from his job at a newspaper because he “lacked creativity”. He tried many things after being fired – and was rejected time and time again, before he finally found some success with a couple of his animated films. Now he is one of the most famous names in modern history.
Milton Hershey failed time and time again, watching three of his companies fail (its rumored he filed bankruptcy each of those 3 times) before he finally succeeded and created what we know today as Hershey’s Chocolate.
Why should your story be any different? The one thing every success story has in common, no matter how or why they failed… they got back up and kept trying until they succeeded.
Visualize, Set Goals, and Think Positively
Positive thought can change your life. Just as negative thought can ruin it. Our minds our powerful. If you stay positive, and you stay persistent, positive things will happen. That’s not to say you won’t have some failures. But if you regularly think negatively, you’ll rarely get anything but negative results.
It’s as if our minds write our own future stories. The same is true for visualization and goal setting. I believe that one reason writing our goals down works is simply because you’ve stated something you want to go after, and when you know what your target is, it’s easier to achieve it.
But I’ve also found it helpful to use visualization tactics. If you want a new house, find a picture of the house you love and pin it to the wall by your desk. It works much like writing down your goals. When you see what you’re after, day in and day out – and you make steps to achieve it, you’ll eventually get there.
Compare this to no visualization, and not writing down your goals… your just swimming in an ocean with no real path to follow.
Write down your goals. Find your visual cues that will help guide you, and set yourself upon the path to getting what you want.
Failures can be Our Best Learning Experiences
Is it because failures stick in our minds with greater depth? Is it because we relate to punishment more strongly than reward? I can’t tell you why we learn best from mistakes and failures… but I truly believe we do.
It might be a personal mistake. Like the time I decided to yell obscenities at a boss, because I was absolutely sick of her needless badgering (I was young, what can I say?). It might be larger-scale. Maybe you’ve been forced into bankruptcy – business or personal. The path to that hard-place was most certainly paved with lessons; both of what you could have done differently, as well as with the things you did correctly.
There is truth to the saying “what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger”. That is because we learn from what didn’t kill us. We take from those lessons and we grow stronger and smarter because of them.
You are Blessed with the Opportunity to Try Again
Knowing his struggles, I asked a friend the other day how he was doing. Through all his stress and struggles, his response was “hey, I woke up this morning – and every day you wake up is a good day, right?”
What a fantastic mindset! If you woke up this morning, then you have another day of opportunities. Another day to put your past behind you and try again. You might fail again, or maybe this time you’ll succeed. You’ll never know if you don’t go for it.
None of us knows what tomorrow will bring. But today you are alive – so make something of it. Go for your goals. Don’t let anything or anyone hold you back.
Life can be hard. Sometimes we just want to give up – and often times we need to grieve failure. Give yourself time. But then let it go. You can’t change what has already happened; but you can look forward, take what you’ve learned, and try again. No matter how many times you fail – get back up on that horse, take a strong grip on the reigns, and show them who’s in control!
“There is no failure except in no longer trying.” ~Elbert Hubbard
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ~Thomas Edison
Scott Orth is the Owner of Thrive Business Marketing and an independent contract Consultant focused on the stability and growth of businesses through online marketing efforts. His expertise in online customer acquisition and customer experience strategies has directly created over $100 Million in revenue for his clients in the past 5 years. And by the way – Scott creates success through relentless positive thought and visualization and has even been asked to give motivational speeches for business improvement.