Look Backward, Look Inward, Look Forward for Success

Be it Steve Jobs, Nelson Mandela or any of the other 6 billion or so people in the world, we all have one thing in common.

Everybody loses.

Beneath all the victory, power and flamboyance lie the painful scars of failures. Failures are the checks and balances put in place by God, nature, Darth Vader or whoever else you consider the omnipotent.

Passed on for a promotion for the umpteenth time? Denied all of the projects you bid on or applied for? Can’t get the cute blonde girl to go out with you? That’s sad. What exactly can you do about it?

Look Backward

The problem with lot of us human beings is that we don’t look back and reflect. Add it to a checklist and after every failed attempt, make it a habit to take a couple of hours for yourselves. Sit back and contemplate why things didn’t go the way they should have. Think of past mishaps and how they have not stopped you from taking another step forward. Be proud of how agile and adaptive you have been.

It also helps if you compare yourself with other people, be happy at what you have got and realize how blessed you are. But it has to be an “apples-to-apples” comparison. It would be ridiculous to compare yourself with a homeless person or a poor human being from a war torn country and consider yourself to be blessed. Compare yourself with your equals and people from your social circle.

To start with, find what your peers from the neighborhood, high school or college are doing. Not everyone from the class of ’88 will be a rockstar. Be happy that you have not squandered all the opportunities like Bill Jones did from the back benches. At the same time analyze how John Smith who sat in front of you is now a business tycoon. That’s a fair comparison. You don’t have to beat yourself up – but at the same time you cannot pat yourself on the shoulder just yet.

Look Inward

Make it a routine to look inside yourself every single day. Search yourself to find what your strengths are; realize what you are really good at. Be it graphic design, gardening, pottery or even being especially adept with the photocopier, there definitely is a precious little thing that you can do best. Find it as soon as possible and hone it at every possible moment.

Stuck in a thankless, full time job that does not utilize your strengths? Find an outlet, an alternate or parallel mode of putting your skills to use. There simply has never been a period in this planet where you are not limited by race, age, language or place of birth. Both a prince and a pauper get the same 24 hours a day to live their life. Time is impartial – and the Internet is so vast the same can be said for it as well. You do not have to be a celebrity to get the limelight and having a presence on it is not only for the elite. You can be whoever you want to be…and do whatever it is that you want to do.

Is pottery your strength? After work, make some and sell online. Good at singing? Make a recording of yourself and put it out there. Good at tap dancing but feeling too shy to be seen doing it? Put on a mask, make a video and post it to YouTube. Can write with flair? There are hundreds of blogs that will pay you for writing quality content for them. With the Internet, you have an audience out there. Unlike the real world, there is an instant gratification for your efforts and all you have to do is find what is in you.

Look Forward

Once you’ve taken the time to look inward and reflect, it’s time to look ahead and “walk the walk.” Make plans. Assume they will fail and make alternate plans. If you are still hesitant to take the vital step forward, imagine how it is going to be when you reach the goal. This may sound cheesy, but imagining yourself with a crown on the head is pretty motivating. The thought of a fantastic future and living life the way you please is a pretty darn tasty carrot.

If one was to prepare a flowchart based on this article, the first and last steps would be in a bi-directional loop. When in doubt while looking forward, look back and see how many of these apprehensions have stopped you from going ahead. ¬†Furthermore, look at how have those decisions have served you. The fact that you are going through this all over again is proof that nothing good comes out of “sitting it out”. Playing chicken is uncool, pointless and downright criminal.

The fact is that there is no one out there to sabotage your life. It is unnatural not to fail and when it happens, take responsibility and learn from it. The buck does stop with you and realizing it will the defining moment of your life.

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  1. Vitor Marques on the 16th September

    I have to say that this is one of the best posts that I’ve read in a while. I have been thinking a lot lately about this matter and it’s nice to see that other think the same that I do.

    The second paragraph after “Look Inward” title is something to remember.. something that sometimes I forget.

    Really great article Justin.

    • Justin on the 16th September

      Glad to be of help Vitor!

  2. Jessica Bosari on the 16th September

    Talk about a great post, Justin. You are spot on. Failures can only stop you if you give them the power to do so. Only you are responsible for or in charge of what happens to you. Take responsibility for your life and make it happen.

  3. Bryan Thompson on the 17th September

    I like this, but I would argue that rather than assume your goals and plans will fail, expect them NOT to, but accept the defeat to prepare you for the next time. I think Napoleon Hill said it best:

    “Most people accept temporary defeat as permanent failure. But defeat is never failure. No situation is ever failure until it is accepted by the individual as such.”

    Hill also recalled his time being mentored by Thomas Edison, who said of his incandescent light bulb, “You know, I had to succeed, because I finally ran out of things that wouldn’t work.”

    Great post!

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