None of us likes facing disappointments. We always want to go for and to get the gold. Succeeding is vital to our sense of wellbeing. It has been this way long before our time. In 1856, a Frenchman was vacationing in Egypt and fell in love with that distant and fascinating country that straddles the Nile. Everything that he saw was immense and imposing. While in Egypt, he met another countryman, Ferdinand de Lesseps. De Lesseps was a dreamer on a grand scale. He wanted to connect the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea by a canal. In response, the other Frenchman yearned to create something monumental also.
By 1859, de Lesseps had been granted approval for his task of building the Suez Canal. The first Frenchman decided that he would build a lighthouse twice the size of the Sphinx for the entrance of the canal. His lighthouse would be a signal flooding light upon Egypt's present greatness and its past grandeur. All would clearly see the cultural eminence of Egypt with his beacon. He spent several years designing the project during which he created a lot of enthusiasm among Egyptians and others. However, the money was not forthcoming to build his colossus of a woman with an outstretched arm pointing a torch to the heavens so that all could see her light. Disappointed, he returned to France.
Back home, the dreamer of greatness soon found a harbor and home for his Suez Canal lighthouse. In 1875, the actual construction began in France. However, it wasn't long before Auguste Bartholdi's sculpture graced another harbor; this harbor was worlds away from the intended original home in Egypt. Bartholdi's colossus became a gift of the French government on our country's centennial. The Statue of Liberty is indeed a colossus standing over 150 feet tall and weighing nearly a half million pounds. At her base is inscribed the Emma Lazarus' words:
Lazarus' words apply also to each of us as residents of this land of the free. The Statue of Liberty lifts her touch not just to huddled masses to see freedom, but she can lighten our lives with this reminder that disappointments can be turned with determination into successes.
If you are like me, don't we always hope to luck-out: win a million in the lotto or inherit a fortune from a rich uncle. However, I haven't been that lucky. In fact, I often swim in a sea of disappointments. While trying to survive, I have noticed a universal truth: my success comes often from disappointments. When a problem arises that is sometimes profoundly painful and I address that misfortunate, I often find success. This happens so often that whenever something bad occurs, my first response is how can I transform this negative into a positive? Here are several guidelines that I use:
1. Don't panic. Avoid becoming like Henny Penny. The sky isn't falling. However, if you think it is, it will seem that way.
2. Assume that a blessing is being disguised in the problem. Unless you go from winning a lotto to inheriting huge sums, you will have to look for success in the problems of life. The problems are far more prevalent than luck.
3. Look for ways to lever the bad into a good. This is the theory behind the adage about when life gives you lemons; make lemonade.
4. Keep a positive mental attitude. Henry Ford said, "You can believe you can or you can believe you can't, either way you will be correct."
5. Assume that success will come from setbacks. Make success a contest between you and your problem. Go for the gold, and success will reward you.
Had Auguste Bartholdi merely returned to
France filled with disappointment from his setback in Egypt, Lady
Liberty would not have become the symbol for our forebears and
millions of others throughout the world. Instead of packing
his dreams and drawings away, he used his disappointment to
fulfill his dream. Therefore, whenever you see a picture of
Lady Liberty, remember success comes from failure and hardly ever
from luck. Now, do you see the light?
This article appeared in the Dixon Telegraph on 10/12/00.