Sometimes It Takes Failure to Ultimately Lead to Success

Feb 20, 2014

“If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.”  —  Thomas Watson Jr., former CEO of IBM

As children, we are naturally inquisitive, curious, eager and willing to try new things.

When they don’t work out we are quick to move on and try something else. We don’t waste time or emotions worrying about what didn’t work, we simply move on to trying something else.

Then something terrible happens. We learn that failure is unacceptable and are admonished, shamed and ridiculed for it.

Failure is necessary to learning

What a shame. Failure is a necessary step in learning and growing. How we view failure and deal with it, to a large extent, determines how successful we will be in life.

We do not have to look hard to find very successful people who have failed, some of them many times before they found success.

Thomas Edison, Theodore Roosevelt, Sir Edmund Hillary, Abraham Lincoln, J.K.Rowling and Sir Winston Churchill are just a few of the many who fall into this category. In fact, it may be difficult to name anyone who has achieved a great deal of success without first encountering some significant failures along the way.

Here are five (5) lessons you can take from failure on your road to success.

1. Take out the ego

When we fail, our ego takes a beating. That is not altogether a bad thing.

When our egos are in charge, we are unable to learn from our mistakes, see situations clearly and take in others viewpoints. This insight is necessary for us to make the changes we need to, in order to be successful.

The ego wants to be right. To be successful we have to accept that we were wrong, learn from it and carry on.

2. Build resiliency and persistence

Since our ability to bounce back from defeat is crucial to eventual success, failure gives us the opportunity to build our resiliency.

Failures force us to rethink, reconsider and find new resources and means to achieve our ends.

3. Failure brings us closer to success

Those who achieve success have always viewed failure differently than most.

Thomas Edison saw the 1000 times he tried to build a light bulb not as failures, but as discovering ways that wouldn’t work. Having ruled out the ways that wouldn’t work, he believed, brought him that much closer to the way that would.

It was the same with Sir Edmund Hillary. He viewed the 1951 and 1952 failed attempts to climb Mt. Everest as discovering routes that wouldn’t work, leading him to the route that took his sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay and him to the top in 1953.

4. Remember you are in great company

When we fail we will feel an emotional low. That is natural and inevitable.

For the people who will succeed, this is temporary. They do not take their failures personally, seeing them as short-term setbacks.

The people who give up, take it personally and see their failures as permanent. A great way to motivate yourself and get back on track after a setback is to remember all of the people who struggled through adversity and failures to eventually achieve their dream.

5. Failures add sweetness to eventual success

Many successful people are quick to point out their failures en route to their journey. Some love to hold them out as badges of honor that signify they are amongst those that have endured and eventually triumphed.

Looking back upon our failures after achieving our goals adds a satisfaction and sweetness to our lives that those who never risk and get beyond failures will never know.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”  — Theodore Roosevelt 

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