The Success of Failing

Have you ever noticed that when people aren’t where they want to be—maybe their career isn’t as advanced as they’d like or they’re not in the loving relationship they’ve always dreamed of—they have a tendency to beat themselves up? They start saying “I’m not this” or “I’m not that,” as if they are somehow doomed because they lack a certain characteristic, quality, or trait.

Realistically, we all have responsibility as to how our life turns out. After all, if we want something, then we are the ones who have to do the work to get it. However, if you’re constantly judging yourself, telling yourself that you’re a failure at things, it will hold you back. It will prevent you from ever moving forward, like a 200-pound backpack attached securely to your back.

But the thing about failure is that it is never final…that is, unless you let it be. In fact, if you look at some of the greatest, most well-known people in history, they’d have never been successful if they experienced a failure and just accepted it as their fate.

Take Thomas Edison, for instance. His teachers literally called him “stupid” and his first two employers let him go because he was “non-productive.” Regardless, he still had a dream inside him to give the rest of the world light.

The first time he attempted to make a light bulb, he failed. The second time, he failed. The hundredth time, he failed. Did he stop? Did he just accept his failures as his fate? No. He kept going. He failed again and again until the one-thousandth time and…wouldn’t you know it…the light bulb was born.

Think about where we’d be today if he’d given up any of the 999 times before. Think about what impact it would have on our existence today if he’d said, “Well, I give up. I’m a failure. Apparently I am stupid and non-productive.”

As hockey great Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” Or, as Michael Jordan has said, “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed,” following up with, “Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”

Failure is only a failure if you decide to give up. As long as you don’t do that, then it’s simply a lesson learned. It’s a tool that tells you what doesn’t work so you can cross that idea off your list of possibilities and move on to something that does.

Remember too that you’re not alone when it comes to failures, so quit beating yourself up. Jack Canfield, co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series reached out to 144 different publishers before finding one who would take on his idea for this set of books. Again, had he given up any of those times, the world wouldn’t have been blessed with the many stories of inspiration and motivation they contain.

Again, failure is only a failure when you give up. So don’t. Okay?

As an entrepreneur, Red has built 3 different organizations. Among some of his accomplishments, Red built “The Accessories Place” into a major vendor of fashion accessories with multimillion dollar sales and double-digit year over year profitability. He is a professional speaker and the author of “Live Your YOUlogy.” In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his 3 children, playing racquetball, and traveling.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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