# How Can We Stay Positive After Repeated Failures?

Have you ever wondered what separates the winners from losers in life? It isn't that winners lose less often. Babe Ruth held a record for being struck out the most times as well as a record for hitting most home runs. You might say he was the biggest winner and the biggest loser, simultaneously.

Obviously, to accomplish both, he couldn't let his euphoria become too extreme or his disappointments grow too severe. Like a warrior, he had to heal his wounds quickly, take victories in stride, and battle on.

In a word, Ruth and all winners, world-beaters, record breakers, must become impeccable.

Anthropologist and novelist Carlos Castaneda was the first to point this out in his various books.

My impression of an impeccable person is one who is meticulous, who attends to details, does things with care and precision, yet never completely stops in pursuit of a larger objective. This would be someone who deftly applies "The Law of Large Numbers," which I delve into in detail in a Nightingale-Conant audio program bearing this title.

LLN folks realize through the application of repeated attempts, at nearly anything, they will ultimately succeed, no matter how long it takes, or what flack they have to endure.

Once they have a worthwhile goal, they never give up.

Consider the example of Max F., who repeatedly failed the quite challenging California bar examination. It took him, if memory serves, more than 18 years to become a licensed attorney. He studied for and then failed more than 30 semi-annual tests, before success came to him.

I met someone who failed the bar exam 80% fewer times than Max, before ultimately passing, yet this individual succumbed to a permanent bout of depression.

What is it about Max that made him persist, and not bow to such prolonged and potentially debilitating results?

Perhaps he is a warrior in the Castaneda mold, an individual who has figured out how to be impeccable in circumstances of unceasing negatives; someone that agrees with Winston Churchill's maxim that "Success is the ability to withstand failure after failure and still maintain your enthusiasm."

Castaneda offers hints about impeccability. He says an "impeccable spirit" is the dividend that accrues to someone who "has stored power after tremendous hardships."

This would be a person much like convicted Watergate felon G. Gordon Liddy, who asserted: "Whatever doesn't kill me makes me stronger."

How can someone such as Liddy fail so conspicuously as a "bungling burglar" and then succeed as he did? As you may know, he went on to a very successful career as an author and talk-radio host.

How do warriors use negative energy to recharge their batteries while others stall at the hint of a setback?

Castaneda says, "The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same."

Perhaps a vital difference is where one turns his energy after sustaining a defeat.

Survivors-and-thrivers seem to deflect failure away from them. They don't interpret setbacks as containing nasty messages about their core abilities and their self-worth. For them, failure is, as Henry Ford famously said, "A chance to begin over again."

Martin Seligman, a best-selling author and psychiatrist, has studied happiness, in depth. He says resilient people seem to be those that dissociate failures from themselves. They might blame factors beyond their control, but this is a healthy response, asserts Seligman.

For those that fail and stall, it seems to be a different story. They accept blame for that which they aren't responsible. They interpret setbacks as permanent and personal. And they stop, or dramatically curtail the very activities that, if continued, would eventually propel them to success.

Possibly, they won't allow themselves to fail enough.

Staying-positive-while failing seems a lot like losing-and-laughing; difficult to do, as well as inappropriate to the occasion.

This isn't required.

What is required is that we carry on, impeccably; that we persist, understanding that failure is no match for a warrior who is committed to soldiering on; who above all, realizes there is no need to fall on his own sword.

Indeed, that may be the only and ultimate defeat, the defining characteristic that separates losers from winners.

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