Not everything you do works out as planned. You will make mistakes. There will be times when external forces negatively impact your efforts. Your success in life is affected by how you deal with problems, obstacles, and disappointments.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “When a door closes a window opens.” This is meant to guide you when facing disappointment. Your goal is to look for new opportunities that appear when confronting obstacles. Every difficulty uncovers new opportunity.
Successful people use setbacks as stepping stones. Whenever they fall they get back up. When something doesn’t go as planned, they make adjustments and keep going. Many discoveries have been made as a result of this approach. The following are some examples.
In 1970, Spencer Silver, a researcher for the 3M corporation had been trying to create a new, strong glue. In spite of his diligent efforts, the result of his work was a very weak adhesive that could be easily removed. This “defective” glue was eventually used to create post-it notes.
Have you ever picked up burrs when walking outside? These annoying plant seeds attach themselves to your clothes and hair. If your pet has picked them up you know how infuriating it is picking them off.
This is exactly what happened to George de Mestral, a Swiss Engineer. Back in 1948, George had returned home from a walk with his dog. They were both covered in burrs. Rather than becoming annoyed at having to pick them off, George examined one of the burrs under a microscope to find out what made them cling. He discovered that each burr consisted of tiny hooked strands that became caught in cloth and fur.
Based on the design of the burr, George spent several years creating a new fastening device. In 1951, George applied for a Swiss patent for his first version of Velcro. George took an aggravating problem and used it as a springboard for a revolutionary discovery.
Robert Cheesebrough was a 22-year-old kerosene salesman. He fell on hard times when the supply of whales diminished. He had to change course. In 1859, Robert switched to the oil industry in Pennsylvania. He soon noticed that the oil workers were complaining about a very waxy substance that formed on their drilling equipment causing it to gum up.
The workers called the pesky substance “rod wax.” The only use they found for it was healing cuts and burns. George analyzed the substance and created a process for extracting “rod wax” directly from petroleum. He named his product Vaseline.
In 1870, Thomas Adams was experimenting with the sap from a South American tree in his quest to discover a substitute for rubber. One experiment after another resulted in failure. Feeling miserable, the unsuccessful inventor put a piece of the sap in his mouth. He found it had a nice flavor and would not deteriorate with chewing. He switched gears and started manufacturing the first mass produced gum in the world.
Although setbacks and obstacles may be discouraging, they are a sign to alter direction. The above examples are just some of a long list of people throughout history who have found the window that opened whenever a door closed.
Never look at a closed door as a sign of failure or a reason to give up. A closed door always indicates that a window has opened. Successful people understand this concept and utilize it to attain their goals.
Don’t listen to people who give up. Learn from those who succeed. You are surrounded by open windows so you don’t have to worry about a closed door.
NOW AVAILABLE: "Dare to Live Without Limits," the book. Visit www.BryanGolden.com or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at firstname.lastname@example.org or write him c/o this paper. 2012 Bryan Golden