From Failure to Unstoppable: The Journey of Resilience and Success

By Stew Darling

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The Essence of Persistence: Blistered Thumbs and Rounds Fired

Blistered thumbs and 1,000s of rounds: Embracing Failure

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games; 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

It starts with weapons drills. In time we progressed to the firing range. Time ‘on Exercise’ allowed us to practice ‘fire and manoeuvre’. The distance from firing point to the target increased and before long we experienced ‘live-firing evolutions. With each day on the firing range, our confidence increased and our ‘groupings’ tightened. Across a military career spanning over two decades, my bullets missed the target thousands of times …… until it mattered.

Embracing Failure as a Path to Excellence

Where the pursuit of excellence is relentless and the stakes are high, there exists a paradoxical truth: the path to success is paved with failures. Embracing failure, rather than shunning it, is the crucible through which leaders forge their mettle, refine their strategies, and ultimately emerge as Unstoppable Forces.

Learning from Setbacks: The Story of Resilience

At our core lies an unwavering resilience, and failure serves as its most potent catalyst. Leaders who embrace failure do not view setbacks as insurmountable barriers, but rather as opportunities for growth and learning. When faced with adversity, they do not retreat, but stand firm in their commitment to their vision. As a child, I stood beneath a Saturn V rocket and considered the audacious pursuit of the moon landing, a venture that faced countless setbacks and challenges. The resilience displayed by NASA and its team of scientists and astronauts in the face of failures ultimately culminated in one of humanity’s greatest achievements. This historic event stands as a testament to the power of embracing failure as a stepping stone toward ultimate success.

Innovation Through Accepting Failure

In our Unstoppable world, where the status quo is never enough, embracing failure becomes the forge of innovation. It is the refusal to accept mediocrity, the determination to explore uncharted territories, and the audacity to challenge conventional thinking. Those of us who have internalised this principle inspire their teams to think beyond the boundaries of what is considered possible. We encourage the relentless pursuit of excellence and the continuous search for new and better solutions. It is through this unwavering commitment to innovation that high-performance leaders distinguish themselves in an ever-evolving world.

Cultivating a Culture of Continuous Improvement

Embracing failure not only empowers individually but also fosters a culture of continuous improvement within a team or organization. When team members witness their leader’s willingness to acknowledge and learn from failures, it sets a powerful example. It communicates that failure is not a mark of shame, but rather a natural part of the journey toward success. This perspective encourages team members to take calculated risks, to experiment, and to push the boundaries of what is possible. In this environment, individuals are liberated from the fear of failure and are empowered towards an Unstoppable life.

Failure Leading to Success: A Personal Narrative

Failure leading to Success – Excerpt from Unstoppable: Living Beyond our Limits.

After a tour of duty sitting behind a desk—staff work was never my choice but necessary for promotion and advancement as an officer—it was time for me to go back into the field. Staff work requires writing papers, doing analysis, under using my trigger finger with mouse clicks as I stared into a computer screen. Losing that muscle memory and replacing it with the mundane. Working on my fitness was relatively straightforward as I always ensured my fitness was above average however, my weapon skills were rusty, to say the least.

A Journey of Persistence and Precision

Most range days are planned for driving rain and gale-force winds, so I was already running out of excuses for missing the target. My instructor checked my Sig-226 pistol as I entered the range and then picked up a full ammo box of 9 mm rounds. After checking that I could remember the dangerous end and watching me firing off the first few magazines, he turned to me and said, “You know what you’re doing; you just need to practice now. Come find me when the box is empty.”

1,000 rounds of ammunition later …… With the firing of each magazine of thirteen rounds, I would walk to the target, and analyse my shooting. Was the grouping tight enough, was it in the right place? Was I snatching as I pulled the trigger, and was my finger placed correctly on the trigger with every shot? And with those seventy-seven reloads, had the rawness on my thumb from the reloads caused me to shift my pistol grip? Before returning to my firing point, my last task was to patch the target, and then repeat.

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