Steve Jobs was given multiple opportunities throughout his life to give up his dreams and settle for something less.
He was given up for adoption before his birth parents had even given him a name and was later kicked out of his own company in 1985. But he refused to quit and instead found new ways to apply his unique talents.
Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, going on to develop a line of products — including the iPad and iPhone — that changed the way we experience the world.
Walt Disney was fired from one of his first jobs for a lack of creativity. Soon after, he set up his own animation studio, only to watch it go bankrupt as he struggled to learn what it took to run a business.
Disney overcame these hurdles to create another film studio and developed plans for a pair of theme parks that bear his name. The Disney brand continues to inspire the imaginations of children everywhere to this day.
The lesson is a simple one: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. The ability to overcome failure and find another way is what separates leaders who make a difference from those who are left to wonder what might have been.
Great leaders do not fear failure. They don’t accept it either, but they understand that in the course of developing new products and services, there will be setbacks. This is especially true when you’re working on something that has never been done before. You have to understand things aren’t always going to go exactly according to plan on the first try.
It’s much easier to take a product that is on the market, make a few changes and call it innovation. The true visionaries are able to think beyond what their customers are asking for and create something that they didn’t even realize they needed.
Once they see it, however, it becomes a product that they must have.
It’s that time in between those moments that will define you. Anyone can come up with a great idea. Do you have the discipline, focus and resolve to do whatever it takes to achieve your goal?
When those around you express doubt and question whether your idea is realistic, will you be able to stand up to the criticism and work even harder to prove the skeptics wrong? If Jobs and Disney had given in to doubt and quit, think how different our world would be.
Life is full of challenges and victories, but most of all, it’s full of opportunity. You can achieve whatever it is you want, so long as you are willing to put in the effort and overcome those moments of failure to complete the task. Don’t settle for less and don’t give up just because things have become more difficult.
You overcame challenges to get to where you are today and you can do it again. ●
Fred Koury is president and CEO at Smart Business Network