American industrialist Henry Ford once said, “Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” This concept is one that surrounds us all as FFA members. From the early days crafting our Supervised Agricultural Experience programs to the late nights finishing our State FFA Degree applications, failure exists. Failure is prevalent, and quite frankly, it is often one of the hardest things we face as members of this organization. Although it can be hard to look failure in the eyes, a graceful comeback from a major setback can teach us some of the best lessons, even better than the ones we learn when we win. So, how in the world can we turn our greatest losses, biggest challenges and most triumphant failures into successes — into life lessons — and into our most joyful wins?
1. Take a deep breath. In the wise words of famous author C.S. Lewis, “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” It is unexplainably hard to fall short of your own or others’ expectations. However, if you take a step back and put your life into perspective, there is always more to come.
- Make a list. What did you do? What was wrong with it? What would have made you successful, rather than a failure? How can you change your actions, moving forward? According to American economist, Leonard Schlesinger, “Failure doesn’t mean the game is over, it means try again with experience.” This is your opportunity to gather your thoughts in a reflective way and use them to craft a second attempt.
- Try, try again. Take another chance. Give it another go. Looking to the words of Maya Angelou, “you may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated.” Using the knowledge you gained in steps one and two, make another attempt. This is your chance to turn things around.
- Reflect some more. What went differently the second time around? How did you improve? What changes did you make, and how did these changes impact the outcome?
- Repeat! This cycle is not fool proof. Even with reflection, planning and action, there will continue to be failures, short-comings and disappointments. However ,with the right mindset, you will begin to use these failures to build successes, to learn from your mistakes and to turn these losses into wins.
As the future of agriculture, you will face hardships. This journey will not always be easy, and failure will always exist. However, if we use our failures to build successes, we will always be winners.