Who was the idiot who coined the expression, “Get it right the first time?” How many of us ever get it right the first time?  One of the “laws of achievement” is that we’re not supposed to get it right the first time.  When we work hard at something and fail (get the wrong results), this is actually the genesis for all success achievement.

Thomas Edison failed nearly 10,000 times inventing the incandescent light bulb.  Walt Disney nearly went bankrupt 12 times before he saw his dreams come true.  Babe Ruth struck out twice as many times as he hit home runs.  Babies don’t walk the first time they make the attempt.  And ask Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield how many rejections they endured from publishers before Chicken Soup for the Soul became a success.

Adversity is the catalyst for all success

Misfortune leads to fortune.  Setbacks lead to breakthroughs.  And hardship leads to triumph.  Massive failure leads to massive success. Did we learn how to read the first time we were introduced to the alphabet?  No, we struggled with it.  Yet, because of the struggle you can read this blog (and I can write it)!   Failure is a human-made illusion of a perfectly natural phenomenon.  The human experience requires that we struggle for anything meaningful because it’s the only way we can appreciate anything. How can there be meaning to life without an appreciation for life?  Failure doesn’t exist except when the fear of trying inhibits or outright prevents any attempt to achieve our potential.

The transformational butterfly

The following is my favorite story.  I first read it years ago in Earl Nightingale’s book, The Essence of Success. It’s an ancient fable that has been passed down through generations to illustrate one of the most important life lessons… why struggle is a critical component and necessary ingredient for achieving any kind of success in any type of situation.

The Transformational Butterfly

The wise man of the village held a cocoon in the palm of his hand.

“What’s that?” The young boy asked.

“Why it’s a cocoon,” replied the wise man.  “Inside is a caterpillar that spun this cocoon.  He’s in the dark.  But when he’s ready, he’ll break out and turn into a wondrous and beautiful butterfly.”

“Can I have it?” asked the young boy.

“Of course,” answered the wise man.  “But first, you must promise that you won’t open the cocoon for the butterfly when he begins to break out.  The butterfly must do it all by himself.”

The young boy agreed and took the cocoon home with him.

The very next day, the cocoon began to tremble and the butterfly fought hard to escape.  As you might expect, the young boy couldn’t bear to watch the butterfly struggle; so he broke open the cocoon.

The butterfly was exquisite and so graceful.  She soared into the air and suddenly, and quite unexpectedly, plummeted to the ground… and died.

The boy returned to the village wise man crying and cradling the dead butterfly in his hand.

“You helped the butterfly escape from the cocoon, didn’t you?” the wise man asked.

“With tears in his eyes; the child admitted that he had opened the cocoon.

“What you didn’t understand,” the wise man said, “was that the butterfly had to struggle.  By struggling he was actually building strength in his wings.  He was in the dark and so much wanted to get out of the cocoon.  But to escape from the cocoon and to transform his life from a lowly caterpillar to a magnificent butterfly, he had to struggle; he had to build muscles in his wings in order to fly.  By trying to make it easier for him, you actually made it harder for him; in this case, impossible to fly.  You killed him with good intentions.”

What we all can learn from this story

When we are in the dark, experiencing job loss, relationship issues, health setbacks, failure of any kind, or any life challenge for that matter, we need to strengthen our muscles – our resolve – to transform our lives for the better. This requires that we work extra hard, endure adversity, and not wish for someone to come along to make things easier – to open our cocoon.  Being in the dark – not knowing how a failure, problem, or life challenge will successfully transform our lives is a necessary part of our existence.  But we have to do it ourselves!  It’s the only way we can become more and achieve more – and soar to the great heights we are capable of.


Jay Block is an industry pioneer and the nation’s leading motivational career coach.  Jay is a best-selling author of 15 books, including his latest blockbuster: 101 Best Ways To Land a Job in Troubled Times (McGraw-Hill).  He has a 20-year record of success for creating and recreating the career management industry. His website is: www.jayblock.com