Failure Is Part Of Your Journey To Success

Let me ask you a question. When was the last time you failed at something?

It doesn’t have to be a big thing. It could be missing the winning point in your squash game, it could be burning the birthday cake you were making for your friend, or not making that last sale. Failure is something we all encounter in life, from an early age in fact, when we fall down the first time we try to walk. This is the perfect analogy for what I want to talk about today, which is why failure, which is so often viewed as a bad thing in adult life, is actually what makes you succeed.


So many of us are so afraid of failure that we don’t realise it’s true potential. When we do make mistakes, we choose to gloss over them instead of owning them, selectively editing out the miscalculations and mistakes in our life’s résumé. Thomas Edison, whose most memorable invention was the light bulb, phrased it best. It took him 1,000 attempts before he developed a successful prototype for his revolutionary idea, but he never gave up. When a reporter asked him “how did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” he said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work” Failure, far from being the catastrophic admission of incompetence many business owners believe it to be, is simply another stepping stone on your road to success. If you don’t make those mistakes, if you don’t fail, you will never truly achieve success.


In order to really reach your full potential, both personally and in business, you cannot be afraid of failure. Instead you have to think big, to strive to make the impossible possible. When we think of this mindset, we often conjure up images of the daredevils, the innovators and the pioneers who have pushed themselves to create something great. The thing that makes these people great often isn’t their education, or their experience, it is their willingness to embrace failure as a necessary step to unprecedented success. To achieve any worthy goal, you must take risks, and the biggest risk of them all is failure. Every day running your own business is to take risks – even small ones. To be afraid of them is to stagnate, to stand still in an ever-changing landscape where those who are willing to try move ahead of you, innovating, seizing opportunities and succeeding. To really achieve the full potential of your business, you need to be able to accept failure as a possibility, but carry on regardless.


There is a lot to be said for learning from teachers, coaches and books, but ultimately it is failure that will help you learn the greatest lessons. Failure is nature’s chisel – it chips away at all the excess around what we do, stripping down the ego, moulding and shaping us into something worthy of success. Without failure, we would be less capable of compassion, empathy, kindness, humility and truly great achievement. Failure is what makes us better people, and what helps us understand how to succeed next time. It’s also what gives us such a sense of accomplishment and a drive to achieve more when we do succeed. After all, there is no sweeter feeling than failing at something 100 times, only to succeed on attempt 101.

So go out there, and next time you worry that you might fail at something, do it anyway. In business, failure is too often seen as something shameful and damaging. Instead, see your past, and your failures as what they are – a chance to learn, to do better and achieve better things next time. And if you are ever afraid or trying something in case you fail, just remember what J.K. Rowling said: It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.”

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