Cartier: You are the future

For millions of kids, May is a time of excitement, planning and the fulfillment of dreams as graduation approaches. Major changes occur as graduates plan their next level of study, begin new careers, move away from home and make the transition from one stage of life to another.

Media often highlights our greatest failures. Stories of tragedy generate audiences but kill hope. Without hope, we deny our potential for greatness, which marginalizes our talents and determination for a better future. 

Those living a marginalized life become experts at rationalization, which is the enemy of success. We all experience fear of failure; however, “failure” is merely an unanticipated result. What you do with that result defines it as a failure or a step toward success. 

Thomas Edison’s teachers told him that he was too stupid to learn anything; yet, he went on to hold more than 1,000 patents and invented some world-changing devices, such as the phonograph, an electric lamp and a movie camera. When asked about his failures in creating the lightbulb, he asked, “Why would I feel like a failure, and why would I ever give up? I now know definitively, over 9,000 ways that an electric light bulb will not work. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.  Success is almost in my grasp.”

Soon, after over 10,000 attempts, Edison invented the incandescent bulb. How many of us would have given up at perhaps the 100th or even 10th attempt? What Edison exhibited was belief: in his talent, his outcome and his ability to affect the future.

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Belief is powerful; it accompanies expectation. When in the mindset of “expectation,” we focus on achievement. We see possibilities that we might otherwise miss if fixated on past “failures.” How many rejections would you consider acceptable before giving up? Success is the process, not just the endgame. It pushes us beyond possibility and into the realm of amazing!  It’s what we commonly refer to as the journey, and graduates are about to embark on a new one.

At 65, KFC’s Colonel Sanders was on the brink of financial ruin, living alone, broke, with a monthly Social Security check of $106. The only thing he owned was a popular chicken recipe. Rather than sell the recipe, which would give him a nominal one-time payout, he decided to provide it free and charge a few pennies per piece of chicken sold, which would give him a regular income while allowing the restaurants to only pay from profits earned.

He spent two years living in his car; his only meals were samples of chicken he made for restaurateurs. His family and friends considered him a homeless, crazy old man. After 1,009 rejections, someone finally said yes, and 10 years later, he became a millionaire. The difference between 1,009 and 1,010 presentations was the difference between poverty and becoming an international fast-food icon. 

Sylvester Stallone’s was rejected more than 1,500 times by casting agents. The week before his script for “Rocky” sold, he was so desperate for food that a tearful Stallone sold his beloved dog for $50. The next week, he bought his dog back for $3,000 and the world was introduced to Rocky Balboa.

Dr. Seuss’ first children’s book was rejected by 27 publishers. The 28th publisher sold 6 million copies!

A newspaper editor fired Walt Disney because he “lacked imagination.” He was turned down 302 times before someone financed his idea of “The Happiest Place on Earth.”

In a popular Nike ad, Michael Jordan says: “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game’s winning shot and missed. I have failed over and over again in my life. … That is why I succeed.”

Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mile. People had tried for centuries but determined it was humanly impossible. Against all logic, Bannister kept trying. At the finish, Bannister said, “Doctors and scientists said that breaking the 4-minute mile was impossible, that one would die in the attempt. Thus, when I got up from the track after collapsing at the finish line, I figured I was dead.”  

Bannister broke the barrier of self-imposed limitation, and hundreds subsequently followed in his steps. How did that happen? Subsequent runners removed that psychological barrier, allowing the body and brain to figure out a way to do it. 

What these people had in common was the power of belief. They kept on going. Don’t let others’ limitations become your own. Break the barriers of your current environment, and step into a new world of possibilities. 

This new journey might be scary, but remember that courage is not the absence of fear but the mastery of it. When doubt creeps in, ask yourself, “But if it were possible, what would I do next?” and do it!

“All things splendid have been achieved by those who dared believe that something inside them was superior to circumstance.” — Bruce Barton.

Graduates: You are the future — make it great! 

Jacqueline Cartier is a political and corporate consultant in Colorado and Washington, D.C. She may be contacted at For further information, visit

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