What KFC can teach us about our mock exams
To many, this time of year can feel like one big muddle.
One minute you were telling yourself, “I’m going to make sure I get all my internals done on time, eat healthier, exercise adequately and balance a social life!” and the next minute you found yourself cramming an internal you had two weeks to write into four hours, on a strict diet of energy drinks, exercising your legs to walk to the school cafeteria, and talking to your friends only through a ten-second Snapchat window with the caption, “Streaks.”
If you feel personally attacked by this, just know that we’ve been here – heck, we’re still here sometimes too. But we’re here to tell you why this very phenomenon can be battered, fried, and turned into KFC fried chicken.
(If you #cantrelate, but still froth an Original Recipe or Wicked Wing, please feel free to let us know how you do it and read on).
At the age of 65…
…after running a restaurant for several years, a man named Harland Sanders found himself retired, up in age, and virtually penniless besides from receiving a $99 social security check. It didn’t seem like there was much left he could do to survive, let alone thrive.
But one unfaltering thing remained strong during this time. Something that carried Harland when most people thought he should remain in the realms of retirement. And that was his love for fried chicken.
Harland started knocking door to door to houses and restaurants all over the city, hoping that someone would help promote his chicken recipe. After this was met with little interest, he began travelling by car to restaurants further afield and cooking his chicken for them on the spot.
It took 1009 people to say no before Harland shook the hand of a restaurant owner and heard his first yes. And by 1964, Harland had 600 of his own franchisers selling his chicken, sold his company for $2 million USD and became who we now know as Colonel Sanders: the man, the myth, the legend.
What this has to do with your mock exams.
There’s something we can all learn Colonel Sanders (on top of how to still look impeccable in a white suit and black bow-tie in our senior years). If you got your mocks back this week, and you’re feeling a blue about your results, think of Colonel Sanders. His story teaches us that failing is vital to succeeding.
There are five lessons we can gain from failing. It’s handy to think of them as ingredients for success.
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re what’s known these days as a “Millennial” or a member of “Generation Z.” In layperson terms, you’re young.
When Colonel Sanders started his KFC franchise he was older than 65. When Susan Boyle had the best selling album of the UK she was 47. At 55, Johnny Depp still hasn’t won an Oscar.
This is not to say that your success won’t come until you’ve reached half a century and there’s a name for the new generation. You’re never too young to start doing, and this has been proven time and time again with the extraterrestrial child prodigies that are featured on the Ellen Show, or even your own successes in the past.
What this does teach us, though, is that these people have all undoubtedly experienced some form of failure in their life just as much as they would have experienced success, if not more. But like they did (and still do), there is plenty of time for you to experience trial and error, and when that happens, re-trial and re-error.
When Colonel Sanders heard his first no, he thought, “What did I do wrong? Could I have approached the restaurant owner in another way? Is there anything I could have added or changed to my recipe that would have made it yummier?”
Okay, we’re assuming he thought that, but unless he had an invincible confidence this would have been a totally normal, and human, thing to do. Self-doubt is natural and we can learn to combat this with self-reflection.
If Colonel Sanders had not failed the first time, and the next 1008, he would not have gained the experiences from those failures to turn them into knowledge – what he didn’t know then, he knew to improve upon later on.
By the second attempt he might have started his restaurant-owner interaction with a handshake. Later on he might have tweaked his recipe to make it stand out from similar ones.
Whatever he learnt along the way was transformed into knowledge that he could apply to the next, earning him his “yes” that 1010th time.
In an ideal world, we would succeed after our first attempt at anything. Want to learn how to drive? Sweet, grab the keys and take the wheel. We don’t, however, live in an ideal world, and sometimes taking the wheel right away is dangerous.
There are things we can jump right into and get it right on the first go and that is great! But from experience and learning from those experiences, we know that other things take practice, dedication, commitment, and passion to get the job done right, safely, or to the best of our ability.
What if Colonel Sanders had pulled the pin after he heard his first no? Or if the first driver stopped trying after they crashed into the haystack? It’d probably still take us a day to get anywhere, and we sure as heck wouldn’t have one of the GFFROAT (Greatest Fast-Food Restaurants Of All Time).
Resilience is crucial for success and for life. If everyone gave up after a failed attempt, the world would not have some of the greatest advancements it has today and humanity would be packing in. Truth of the matter is, some don’t have it as easy as others. What’s easy or what’s accessible for one person won’t be for another. Resilience teaches us to keep persevering through what we’re individually facing and prepares us better for future failures, only to amplify our successes even more.
If experience, knowledge and resilience are herbs, flour and yolk, growth is the combined ingredients that form the final batter. Resilience pushes us to accept failure and continue onward. Growth is why we improve the next time the situation, or one similar, arises.
You are your bones, your teeth, your hair, your fingernails. Everything about you is growing. This is the same with your thoughts, opinions, abilities and talents. Like your body striving to do its best for your changing self, you too are able to better yourself by growing from what life throws at you.
Once we’ve overcome the hurdles that we face, growth is beneficial for us to not beat ourselves up the next time something unsatisfactory happen and even pass that resilience on to other people. Personal resilience is needed until it turns into growth, and from that can your metaphorical fried chicken be shared with the rest of the world.
Lastly, it is crucial that from failure you learn the importance of value. Think about your past failures and ask yourself why you failed. Think about your past successes and ask yourself why you succeeded. The important thing with valuing these is knowing that each experience is as significant as the other.
Success is measured differently for everyone. Before the birth of KFC, Colonel Sanders had a bomb fried chicken recipe that his family enjoyed – it just wasn’t available to everyone. That doesn’t mean he was only successful when he gained fame and money! Just because you failed to do one thing doesn’t mean you should devalue your successes in the past. Just because Johnny Depp still hasn’t won an Oscar doesn’t make him any less of a great actor.
If you can learn to value all your successes, whether that’s getting up this morning or getting a good grade on your mock exam, you should also learn to value each failure, as well. Because just as success means different things to different people, what you believe is a personal failure might be necessary for your journey in the long run. It might turn out to not have even been a failure at all.
Colonel Sanders’ niece loved his pre-KFC fried chicken, whether or not he served it to her in a red and white bucket.
In conclusion, failing is vital to succeeding.
The feeling you get when you fail at something isn’t the best. But without failure, you would not be able to measure your success.
The lessons we learn from failing all contribute to whatever it is we will succeed in.
With experience, knowledge, resilience, growth and value, we can learn to accept our failures and thank them for making us stronger, more courageous people. We can take these ingredients and turn them into one successful piece of fried chicken.
The next time you walk past a KFC or treat yourself to a drumstick, just think: this heavenly creation would not have been possible if it weren’t for the first 1009 failures of a Harland Sanders. If he needed them to happen in order to succeed, are they still failures in the end?