Turning Defeat into Victory

As you can imagine, I receive a lot of e-mails from people who share their woes with me – particularly during these bad economic times. And while I can’t answer all of them, I do try to read each and every one.

I not only do it because I feel a moral obligation, but for selfish reasons as well. You would be amazed at the continuing education I receive from my readers’ e-mails.

The following e-mail, from “G.H.” in the West Indies, is a good example of what I’m referring to.

I am an avid fan. I am committed to change since I believe that, in spite of my talents, it is the shoot-from-the-hip, BS from the mouth that has me where I am today – over forty, no savings, and re-starting my business every Monday morning.

I have had far too many peaks and troughs since I started my business back in 1994. Sometimes the troughs were very deep and excruciatingly painful, only because I never stuck with anything long enough.

I was always leaving for a trip here, another opportunity there, getting sidetracked, and sometimes opting to party and enjoy life instead of attending to what needed to be done.

Thank you for your thorough explanation of this thing called persistence. I am encouraged.

What struck me about G.H.’s e-mail was his willingness to bare his soul and be totally honest – not so much with me, but with himself. By doing so, I believe he has already taken the first step toward rising above his past mistakes and achieving the kind of success he clearly aspires to.

Admitting your mistakes may sound like a small thing, but it’s not. On the contrary, you cannot navigate toward success until you have gone through the catharsis of being honest with yourself about the real reasons for your failure. Not excuses for your failure, but reasons.

I thought about G.H.’s e-mail the other day when I was strolling on the Mall in D.C., reflecting and contemplating. What caused his e-mail to come to mind was something I happened to read on the south wall of the World War II Memorial:

The Battle of Midway – June 4-7, 1942


They had no right to win. Yet they did, and in doing so they changed the course of a war… even against the greatest of odds, there is something in the human spirit – a magic blend of skill, faith, and valor – that lifts man from certain defeat to incredible victory.


– Walter Lord, Author

The moment I read these words, it became one of my favorite quotes. Walter Lord was a gifted author who wrote extensively about World War II and other historic events, such as the sinking of the Titanic. He had a long and productive career, passing away only recently (2002) at the age of eight-five.

What immediately struck me about this quote was Lord’s gift for sculpting words. As I have repeatedly stated, it is not a writer’s duty to come up with new thoughts. It is his duty is to craft ageless wisdom in ways that bring about epiphanies in the minds of his readers.

What a poetic and accurate way to describe the uniqueness of our species: “Even against the greatest of odds, there is something in the human spirit – a magic blend of skill, faith, and valor – that lifts man from certain defeat to incredible victory.”

Is this not the story of virtually all great successes? G.H.’s tale of woe describes the predicament that much of the human race finds itself in today. Between the brutal realities of government redistribution of wealth and oppression combined with our own human flaws, it can be quite difficult to pick ourselves up and trudge forward.

But the fact is that just about anyone with reasonable intelligence can do it, because the human spirit really does possess skill, faith, and valor.

Skill. You are born with one or more unique skills, and it is your job to discover what those skills are.

Faith. Faith is belief, and belief is a choice. In Star Wars, when Yoda effortlessly frees the X-Wing from the bog, Luke Skywalker says, “I don’t believe it.” To which Yoda responds, “That is why you fail.” As much as I’d like to, I can’t improve on Yoda’s explanation of why faith is so crucial to success. Who am I to question a Jedi Master?

Valor. Valor is courage. Because you have free will, you can choose to be courageous. In other words, valor is a state of mind.

The bottom line is that the magical blend of skill, faith, and valor is always available to us. Unfortunately, we do not always utilize these powerful tools. But when we do, we indeed have the capacity to lift ourselves from certain defeat to incredible victory. We see this happening and read about it virtually every day of our lives.

So if G.H.’s e-mail seems to describe your own situation to one extent or another, take heart. You can begin moving in the right direction today simply by utilizing three remarkable human traits – skill, faith, and valor – that are already available to you.

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Robert Ringer is a New York Times #1 bestselling author and host of the highly acclaimed Liberty Education Interview Series, which features interviews with top political, economic, and social leaders. His recently released work, Restoring the American Dream: The Defining Voice in the Movement for Liberty, is a clarion call to liberty-loving citizens to take back the country. Ringer has appeared on numerous national talk shows and has been the subject of feature articles in such major publications as Time, People, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Barron’s, and The New York Times. To sign up for his e-letter, A Voice of Sanity in an Insane World, visit www.robertringer.com.]