Do you know that “it’s not what happens to you in life that matters; its how you deal with what happens to you in life that matters”? Never think that you are the only one that has difficulties and setbacks in life. Most of the people that we call leaders today have experienced a number of failures and setbacks in their personal and or public lives before reaching that defining moment that qualified him/her as a leader.

Let me give you an example. When I grew up as a child in Chicago I never took the opportunity to learn how to swim. However as I began my training to become a Naval Aviator I found out that I had to pass a very extensive swimming test that included a one-mile swim while wearing a flight suit. Now I really wanted to become a Naval Aviator but if, prior to choosing that career, someone had told me I would have to pass that exhaustive of a swimming test I probably would have chosen another option.

As the day of the test approached I spent all of my free time practicing in the pool. On the day of the test I jumped into the pool and flunked that sucker bigger than Dallas. As a result, my entry into flight training was delayed until I could pass the test. I was at a decision point in my life. I could either choose another military career or I could learn from my failure and take the makeup test in 30 days. How many of us know that “failure is not always fatal”?

I chose to take the makeup test and concentrated on those parts of the swim where I was weakest. I found a qualified swim instructor to help me turn my weaknesses into strengths. I wish that I could say that I excelled in every part of the makeup test but I didn’t. However I did pass and that was my goal. I went on to have an exciting career as a Naval Aviator. The point that I am trying to make is that leaders learn from their failures and recognize that “success is not always final and failure is not always fatal”.