On my dad’s farm in western Pennsylvania, every couple of months he would have me hook up the rusty-red Farmall M tractor to the manure spreader and back it into the barn. I would then grab a pitch fork and clean out the horse and cow stalls. With the manure spreader piled high with manure, I would head out to our fields to “fertilize” them.
On a manure spreader, the tractor engine drives the spreader by using a pto shaft at the back of the tractor. The speed of the tractor engine determines the speed of the tongs that throw the manure in the air and spread it on the pasture. On one particular day, with the engine revved up high, I engaged the pto and started spreading manure. The manure flew like a bird into the heavens. I had a strong wind at my back. With the tongs of the manure spreader flinging manure high into the air, the wind blew the manure right over me! You’ve probably heard of meteor showers, well, this was my first, and only, sh*t shower.
Other than being a funny story, the value of it is, “if you want something to grow, add some manure”. Manure is symbolic of adversity. Bad jobs, failed relationships, fleeting finances and lost opportunities are all lessons. My adversities and failures in life are valuable only if I learn the lesson that they teach. As Og Mandino says in his books, “Every detection of what is false leads you to what is true”.
My home foreclosure taught me that banks will give anyone a loan. Also, that I can be content with a warm, dry, safe place to sleep, if I choose to be, even if it is in my car. Beds, bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, tv’s and couches are all luxuries. They add nothing to a well lived life if I have to work a job I hate to own them.
My janitorial business taught me that I don’t want a business that is dependent upon my time. I also learned that I can run a successful business, and the “gold in them toilets” is the time leverage I get from that business. Furthermore, while cleaning I can listen to motivational mp3’s and podcasts; I’m getting an education.
Thinking about it now, I learn nothing when I do nothing. I enjoy my success when I am successful, but I truly have an opportunity to learn when I fail. And when I learn, I grow. So as manure causes a rose to bloom, so can failure cause a man or woman to grow and bloom.
What have your failures taught you? How have you grown from them?