#21 Goals, Failure, and Choosing to Move Forward

In their book Built to Last Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras describe what they refer to as BHAGs. In their research of successful companies they found that companies that set big, hairy, audacious goals left their competition in the dust. In other words, these companies did not settle for making goals that would be easily reached–they set goals that required effort to attain. They make you stretch.

When setting a goal think of another acronym HOG.  Set a huge outrageous goal.  Think of this as a reminder not to settle for something that will not allow you to take advantage of your best efforts. If you aim high and take appropriate action steps, you will move further than you may have thought possible. Yes, you may stumble; you may even fail to achieve a particular goal. But if you aim low (the easy way), you will hit your mark every time–and more than likely never achieve your potential.

We can all remember stories of people (famous and not so famous) who failed miserably but were able to rebound from the pits of despair and find success in the aftermath.  It may be hard to find the unseen benefits in a failure at the time it happens but they are there.  Consider some of these more famous “failures.”

  • Award-winning actress and comedienne Lucille Ball was dismissed from acting school.
  • Early in their career, a record company rejected the Beatles because the company did not like their sound and thought “guitar music was on its way out.”
  • His high school basketball team cut future hall-of-fame basketball player Michael Jordan.
  • Long before his famous inventions, a teacher told Thomas Edison that he was stupid.
  • A newspaper fired Walt Disney because he lacked creativity.

Life is full of risks–and failed attempts. Just because you fail at something does not make you a failure. It simply means you failed at that attempt.  As cliché as it sounds, the only failure in a failure is the failure to get up and do it again.

If Michael Jordan had never rebounded from his high school failure, think of the basketball and athletic genius the world would have missed.  Therefore, the next time you do not achieve what you want and you consider quitting, think of what the world might miss if you do not persevere toward your dream!

Think about your favorite novel or movie for a moment. The hero started at a certain point in life and ended at another at the conclusion of the story. The final scene usually represented some type of success or progress for the main character. However, that achievement did not occur without twists and turns of the plot. Those adventures–or misadventures–kept you turning the pages of the book or sitting in your seat watching the screen. As the hero made his way toward a particular goal, an obstacle presented itself and the hero detoured from his goal. He had to gather his thoughts, refocus, and then move back up the road toward the goal. This continued until he reached the final scene.

Just like the hero, you, too, will probably have missteps along the way. Goals are set in the real world. Problems, unforeseen circumstances, and “bad luck” are also part of the real world. Expect them, plan for them, and make choices that keep you moving toward the desired result. 

[The above is an excerpt from Piscitelli, Steve. Choices for College Success, 2nd edition. Boston: Pearson Education, 2011. Pages 63-64; 68.]

© Steve Piscitelli and Steve Piscitelli’s Blog, 2010.

About stevepiscitelli

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27 Responses to #21 Goals, Failure, and Choosing to Move Forward

  1. Brenda W. says:

    I like how the aurthor gave examples on failure, then goes along to descibe that being a failure is allowing obsticles to defeat you by giving up on your goal. It made me think of how many times I have failed a subject and never gave up. It also motivates me when I reflect back on all I’ve done to get where im at today, the over all message is ” anything is possible when you don’t give up.”


  2. keenan says:

    this is a really good summary of the book, i am that type of person who sets big crazy goals that you have to work for. But i end up setting myself up for failure because i never turn my dreams into reality. Or actually start my goal by doing something, thats gonna be an acheivement towards my goal.


  3. Antonio H. says:

    I can really relate to this entry because of where I am right now in my life. I’ve been primarily independent for about two and a half years, there has been plenty of times I wanted to give up on myself but I simply stayed focus and kelp on moving. It’s entry’s like this that keeps me motivated and inspired to continue pursueing my goals.

    ~ Antonio H.


  4. keenanbrown says:

    this summary reminds me of myself i have big goals that i want to accomplish in time but i dont ever put any work into it to exceed in my goal. so it stays a dream untill i learn to overcome my laziness and put my dreams to goals and complete things that i start.


  5. Maclovio says:

    I can most definately relate this to my life as well as the lives of others. People who don’t take the steps towards a dream are mostly scared of failing or just don’t have the drive. If that was the mind- set for Martin Luther King, think of what impact that would have on the rest of the world. If I would have just said that grade school was a waste but yet want to do something in life that has more to deal with issues that require education, I would have not gone to college or even have a high school diploma. I have failed attempts in accomplishing many things in both school and life, but those failures let me know what I needed to do to get back up and hit darder and opened doors for me that led to many passions that I now have. Passions that I have found through stumbling on them when I failed.


  6. Darrell says:

    If you dream big, work hard,and stay focused you CAN live your dream(s).Some people give up before they achieve greatness. If you don’t work hard to make your dream happen and you fail then you won’t know how to get back up again.This reminds me of when I learned how to ride a bike my mother said “you CAN do it son” she did not say keep trying.I wanted to ride my bike just like the big kids.My goal was to be the best bike rider in the pack.With hard work I soon began to amaze the older kids by inventing my own tricks I did not duplicate what they did and they considered me to be the best.


  7. kelly d. says:

    failure is a very big ordeal in my life. it is something that steady chase’s me because it wants me to go with it. but i wont i never have and never will. i cant give in to failure due to the fact of my family!!!! my little boy and little girl depend on me. yes i have failed at things in my life but i have never let them keep me down. you have got to keep your head up no matter the situation. ive learned if you have gotten yourself in a situation you can get your self out of it you just got to keep trying and never give up. failure is something that happens to people every day you just have to make the choice to either let it keep you down or not!!


  8. Frances W. says:

    I love the way the examples were displayed. I started thinking about in order to succeed in life, I have to put enough effort and determination to be a successful individual. No one will ever know how successful you can be without giving a 100% into your passion. Nothing is guaranteed but at least you can say I gave it my all.


  9. dylan coleman says:

    This is a good article on failure. If u fail in something find something else to do or keep on trying. I have goals in life and if i don’t accomplish on the first try i will keep on trying. Like famous people they had to keep on trying to accomplish their goal.


  10. As child I was always told reach for the “stars.” Why should it be any different now, ten, twenty or however many years later. We all have goals we want to accomplish. Why not take it a little further, what would it hurt?


  11. chazare sherman says:

    Failure is what motivates me every day I have to go school. At times I feel lazy, or I second guess myself on what I am moving toward in my life. And that is becoming a Physical Therapist, now I know by all means this is not going to be an easy road, and to be honest with you I don’t want it to be. I want this challenge of being committed of having to wake up on time so I can make it to class. I like having to be forced to write a paper because in the long haul it is only going to benefit myself. And I say forced because I don’t have a choice. If I don’t do the work I fail, and failure is not an option for me at this stage in my life.


  12. Stephy says:

    I always grew up, taught to always looking at the negative side of things. As in, if it seems impossible, don’t even try. I believe in reaching far for your goals (HOG), but to also remember to treat yourself nice every one in a while to remind myself that life just isn’t about the stress. Rewards are nice.


  13. Denise says:

    I really can relate to failure i like give up to soon .when i do somthing and it don’t work out i just let it go and at the end i hurt myself.I have trust myself and don’t give up and keep trying my best


  14. meagan green says:

    I believe that if you believe in yourself you can achieve i also believe that if you set goals and have faith that you can actually achieve. I strongly agree with the artical. My theory is if u have faith and have God on your side You can achieve anything that you sought out to do.It may not be easy and you may have stumbling blocks but The God i serve will most defenitely meet you half way especially if you are putting one foot forward; no matter how big the goal is.


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