Find Success Through Failure

Find Success Through Failure

Fail Your Way to Success

How many times do you have to fail before you succeed? That’s the million-dollar-question.

Maybe the first question should be – How many times have you failed in your life?

If you’re anything like me, then you’ve probably “failed” more times than you can count. Or more times than you’d like to admit. And how many times are those voices in your head telling you “you can’t do that,” “don’t even try, you’ll fail,” or “what makes you think you can?”

Or worse, do you hear yourself say negative phrases? Those small words with big impact – like “that was stupid,” “I’m such an idiot,” or “Why am I so lazy?” Why do we do ever say things like this to ourselves in the first place?

We have been programed, indoctrinated, for over 13 years (from Kindergarten through High School) that failure is not OK. Many of us have had that pounded into us for years beyond high school. Over and over we’re taught to believe that failure is not ok. Failure is looked down upon. We are accustomed to feeling embarrassed when we fail, taught to hide our failures, and to get down on ourselves about past failures. What’s worse, some of these failures turn into fears. These fears can overcome us, become paralyzing, and sometimes control us. They become so strong, to the point that we can no longer function or even think properly in the face of them. So, after all this, how do we overcome our fear of failure or our past failures?

First, know that you’re not alone.

Let’s be properly introduced to some of the greatest so-called “failures” of all time…

There’s Abraham Lincoln, who, in

1830 was demoted. He went from a Captain in the Army to a Private…
1832 he lost his job when he was defeated in his bid for the state legislature…
1833 he failed in business…
1835 his sweetheart died…
1836 he suffered a nervous breakdown…
1838 he was defeated in a run for Speaker of the House…
1843 he lost the nomination – he sought to run for a Congressional seat…
1848 he was a member of Congress and then lost his re-nomination for Congress…
1849 he was rejected for position of land officer; he was declined an appointment as secretary and then also as Governor of the Oregon Territory…
1854 he was defeated in a race for the U.S. Senate…
1856 he was defeated for nomination of Vice-President…
1858 he was again defeated in a run for the U.S. Senate… and just two years later, in
1860 he was elected President of the United States of America.

Talk about a long road. Not just failure in business, but failure again and again in politics. Heartbreak. Failure in just holding it together – a nervous breakdown isn’t something most people want to admit. And yet, President of the United States. One of our most cherished and admired Presidents…

Think Honest Abe is an anomaly? A one-of-a-kind? Let’s look at someone else.

There’s Winston Churchill, who, in

1880 developed a speech impediment…
1885 managed to fail the sixth grade…
1893 failed the military college entrance exam – three times…
1895 lost his only mother-figure when she passed away…
1897 he was defeated in war at Malakand…
1899 he was defeated in a run for Parliament Oldham; was captured and even imprisoned in a Prisoner of War camp in Pretoria…
1904 he finally had a seat in Parliament and ended up losing his seat in Parliament…
1908 he had a seat in the Cabinet and lost his seat there too…
1921 he lost his fourth child, who died at the age of three…
1922 he was defeated in a bid for Chancellor…
1931 lost his Cabinet seat… and in
1940 he became Prime Minister – inspiring the British resistance to Adolf Hitler through steadfast refusal to consider defeat, surrender or compromise. He led Britain in this role until Hitler’s defeat and is “widely recognized as being among the most influential persons in British history.”*

Perhaps you’re not impressed by politicians.
Maybe older figures don’t resonate with you.
Ever failed at an idea?

Thomas Edison did. His teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” In fact, he was fired from his first two jobs for being “non-productive.” As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. How many times are you thankful for that bulb, every day?

Maybe you’re not an inventor. But, have you ever failed in business?

Henry Ford failed and went broke five times. Five times before becoming known as one of the largest car manufacturers of all time.

Not into cars? How about sports?

All-time great Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times in his career. For a long time he held the record for most home-runs but did you know that for decades he also held the record for most strikeouts? Can’t hit a home-run before striking out – more times than once, more times than you can count.

Babe wasn’t the only strike-out in town.

Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” He went bankrupt several times before he built Disneyland. In fact, the proposed park was rejected by the city of Anaheim on the grounds that it would only attract riffraff.

Today millions of so-called riffraff from all around the world venture to Disney theme parks, cruises and resorts.

One more failure to consider, for all those music-lovers who are looking to find success one day in that arena:

Beethoven handled the violin awkwardly and preferred playing his own compositions instead of improving his technique. His teacher called him “hopeless as a composer.” Need I say more?

Perhaps you’ve heard of these names?

You must know some of them, if not all of them. Why am I making so much of them? Because all of these individuals learned something you may have not learned yet. They knew that failure is only a step closer to success.

Thomas Edison said it best when he said “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up!”

Are you close to giving up? Are you too afraid to start? Do you want to overcome your fear of failure and learn to use it to succeed? These 4 simple steps to overcoming failure are just for you – use them to succeed!


What? Yes, celebrate failure! When you get past your own pride and recognize that failure is all a part of growing, then you’re just getting started. Know that failing is part of learning and part of – ultimately succeeding. When you can internalize this, true learning, that no school can teach, will begin.

Robert Kiyosaki, in his book Rich Dad Poor Dad speaks of a conversation that he had with his “rich dad,” paraphrased as:
“you will go bankrupt at least 4 to 5 times before you become a millionaire, why not get started immediately?”

Let’s not waste any time in celebrating our failures!


Evaluate and learn from your past mistakes. If something didn’t work, then learn to identify why. In other words, make it a point to comprehend what worked and what didn’t. If you have a comprehension of why some venture failed, then you can learn how to avoid the mistake again and try another method. Change comes from mistakes and change puts you on your way. Don’t repeat your mistakes. It’s not a just a cliche when George Santayana said, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”


Surround yourself with people that will allow you to fail.

Don’t know who that is? Let’s look at an example:

A newly hired Executive Vice-President made a horrible business decision for his company. His decision was so bad, it cost the company over $2 million dollars. After all was said and done he knew he was going to get fired. He waited for the CEO to make the call. When the phone finally rang, he went to the CEO’s office and dug his heels in, waiting for the inevitable. As expected, the Executive VP was asked why he made the decision he made. He was asked, “What information did you use?” and, “How could the results of the decision turned out differently?” As the meeting came to a close the Executive VP was utterly confused. He asked, “So, you’re not going to fire me?” The CEO replied, “Heaven’s no, I just invested over $2 million dollars in your education!” While that situation is extreme, that CEO is the kind of person you want around you. The principle is the same: collaborate with people that will allow you to fail and appreciate what you’ve learned from your mistakes.

You have to commit to yourself, have an iron will that won’t give up! Keep trying, no matter how much or how many times you fail. Don’t stop with failure. Remember what Edison said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up!”

One of the most common causes of failure is the habit of quitting when one is overtaken by temporary defeat. Every person is guilty of this mistake.

In Napoleon Hill’s book Think and Grow Rich, there’s an illustration about a man who got caught up in the “gold fever” of the time when the U.S. experienced it’s gold-rush. He went west to pursue his dream of becoming wealthy. After weeks of labor, he was rewarded by discovery of the shining ore. But, he needed machinery to bring the ore to the surface. So he went home to Williamsburg, Maryland, told his relatives and a few neighbors of the “strike.” They got together the money he needed for the machinery and it was shipped.

The return in gold proved they had one of the richest mines in Colorado! A few more cars of that ore would clear the debts. Down went the drills! Up went the hopes of the man! Then, something happened… the vein of gold ore disappeared! They had come to the end of the rainbow, and the pot of gold was no longer there. They drilled on, desperately trying to pick up the vein again, all to no avail.

Finally, they decided to QUIT. They sold the machinery to a junk man for a few hundred dollars, and took the train back home. This “junk” man called in a mining engineer to look at the mine and do a little calculating. The engineer advised that the project had failed because the owners were not familiar with “fault lines.” His calculations showed that the vein would be found JUST THREE FEET FROM WHERE THE previous man HAD STOPPED DRILLING! That is exactly where it was found! So the “junk” man took millions of dollars in ore from the mine, because he knew enough to seek expert counsel before giving up.

When you’re committed, you’re willing to stick to your guns and find people to help you along the way. Don’t give up.

Turn failure into success with these 4 steps:
Celebrate, Comprehend, Collaborate, and Commit

As simple as they are, they are not easy. Sometimes your commitment will face anger – if it does, get angry! Let nothing stop you and you will SUCCEED!