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My First Major Failure By Randall Stafford

Thomas Edison wrote his quote “ I have not failed, I have found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” I believe this is somewhat close. I believe this quote. I live by this quote. Sometimes it takes a long time for me to realize that I have not given up.

As a child of 7 years old I lived in a small town called Dumas, Texas. Some of you may know of this town. At that time, growing up there wasn’t dangerous as our mothers and fathers let us run around in the neighborhood freewilled. Getting picked up by strangers was the least of our worries or our parents. In fact, most of the time parents were worried about the safety of the strangers coming into the neighborhood. That is another story altogether. Of course, we all know about throwing water balloons at moving cars right? The only dangers we had was the dangers we incurred upon ourselves.

This brings me to a point of my first major failure. I suppose you have read the papers or looked at the news or seen somewhere about Robert Blake! It reminds me of “Spankey and the Gang” if that is what it was called. Well, that is about what Dumas was like in my neighborhood. You could consider me the “Spanky”. Kids all around would come to see what I was up to next. I was kind of a leader. I was just a dare devel. Actually, I just wanted to try different things. Venture out. Do things that I felt that I could do.

This is when I decided that I wanted to “FLY”. If I hadn’t told you before in any of my articles before, I will tell you now. My father was a carpenter. There was always some extra wood around the house. Boy, could I make stuff out of things there. I found some plywood. I can’t remember how long it was. Some how, between Jimmy Hulsey and myself, we did figure out how to cut this stuff. We made some holes in each piece so we could tie these to my arms. I do remember the boards were kind of heavy but I figured the wind would take care of that once I was in the air.

Well, after making the two wings for my arms and climbing on the top of my fathers house, we figured that we may need to be as high as possible to get some altitude. We discussed this quite a bit. I never thought about getting hurt. If all else fails, I would at least float right? Running down that ridge was scarey. The closer I got to the edge my heart was pounding, and at that point just before I got to the edge I decided not to go, but the wind caught me and off I went and straight down. WUUff! Right into the dirt. That plywood jambed right into my back. Sprang ankles. I can’t remember breaking my arms. Jimmy tells me I broke both of them. Shoot, I can only remember the fall. It was wild. Jimmy told everyone about that failure. Talk about a small town. The town got even smaller as the tale got larger. By the end of the week, I had been told that I broke both arms and neck. My failure grew bigger and bigger by the stories told around me. Then only thing I knew for sure then was the fact I was not going to do that again. That HURT!

HOWEVER. That day affected me. It haunted me. It gave me a sort of fear. I had a different meaning for the word “FALL”. I hated it. I could not imagine “Falling” without getting hurt. That plywood pulled both my shoulders out of whack. I did not break both my arms. I did not ever break my arms. Those stories are just to drain people after you are down and out. 35 Years later, Jimmy is still laughing about it. Failure has a tendency to haunt you.

BS. I was going to try it again. This time I will go up in an airplane and jump. This will cure me of my fear. I will take care of this failure. I will “FLY”.

You know, some things just don’t turn out for some people. I did take a 3 hour course for learning how to parachute out of a plane. Yep. I was 250 lbs. I was to heavy to go up with another diver, jumper, parachuter or whatever you want to call them. So I had to go up alone. They told me that I had better be prepared to know what to do in case my chute gets twisted up. It may happen. Most of the time it won’t. 1 out of 1000 times it will happen and if it does in your parachuting career, you may need to know how to undo it. I instantly thought, yeah right, I am to lucky for that. I did not pay much attention to that. I am only going to do this once so, I am not worried about those odds. Guess what?

FAILURE! You got it. Yep. Murphy’s Law. Boy o Boy. I went up. Step out on the planes fender at 85 mph and hung on to the wing with an 95 lb parachute on my back. I let my feet go and hung there swinging in mid air above the ground 3900 feet looking down. Boy, what did I get into here. Things were to heavy to get back in the plane. The wind, the weight. I let go. I felt my self go upside down as I was falling FAST!

Not only did my chute get twisted up. I went completely upside down. Once the twisted chutes partially opened and I was able to start pulling it apart and kicking, I realized I was lost. I was headed towards the water. Oh, I could really make this whole thing into a book but I did not want to steer you away from my main point. I did get the parachute untwisted and I did have a walkie talkie on so the guy on the ground was able to lead me back to the spot where I was to land. I lived. I also landed on my “butt”. Will I try it again? You bet!

It took me 35 years to discover that fear only does one thing to a person. It builds. It does nothing more. When I said I would “never” do something again, I should “not” have said it. I should have learned something there. Of course jumping off a house is kind of stupid but my point is the “NEVER”.

Recently, I have turned things around. I jumped about 6 years ago and since then I haven’t been challenged. I realize that if you set your mind to something, you can do it. If you really want to be rich, you can be. If you are going to listen to everyone else then no, you will not be rich. I did not listen to anyone when I decided to go fix my fear. I went for it.

Sometimes being Bull Headed is the only way to be. Have you ever realized that most of your rich people usually succeed alone. They soar alone. They quit listening to their peers. They break away. They also quit talking about what they are doing. They just do it.

Now Go Do It.
What do you want to do?

Here is what I learned from all of this. Failure should only be used in a mechanical sense. It doesn’t apply to humans.

If you learn from something how can you possibly fail. I learned that first jump hurt like hell.

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