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Amazing Possibilities!

  • Writer's pictureMatthew Kelly

Sometimes it Only Looks Like Failure

None of us is perfect. This is a truth that most of us

learn early in life. Yet though we are not perfect, we are


We have all witnessed ourselves and others failing in

different areas of our lives. Some allow their failure to

be transformed into despair and defeat. Others are able

to get up, move on, and struggle again.

Some failures just look like failures. Other failures

really are failures and need to be recognized

as such.

Vincent van Gogh, the Dutch painter, is now hailed

as one of the greatest artists of all time. But he did not

enjoy the same acclaim and success during his lifetime.

He painted 1,700 paintings; during his lifetime he sold

only one of them, for a mere eighty-five dollars. Almost

one hundred years to the day after his death, one of his

paintings was sold at action for forty million dollars.

Some failures just look like failures.

Imagine if after painting five pictures and not being

able to sell them, van Gogh had quit. Today we

would not have Sunflowers and so many of his other

works to enjoy.

There are hundreds of examples of men and women

who have persisted despite failure or apparent failure.

Another of these is Babe Ruth, one of the greatest baseball

players of all time. Babe Ruth knew one thing:

he could hit a baseball out of the park. He did what he

knew, and he did it often—a total of 714 times. But

Babe Ruth had his share of failures too. He had to walk

back to the dugout 1,330 times after striking out in front

of thousands of people. Imagine if after Babe Ruth had

struck out one hundred times he had said to himself,

“Well, one hundred times is enough times to make any

mistake. I quit.” And yet so often we quit long before

we have even reached one hundred.

How do you respond to failure? When you fail, particularly

in your struggle to become a better person, how do

you respond?

Matthew Kelly

From A Call to Joy

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