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Why Success Requires Failure

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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Over 40 layers of paint lie underneath Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting, The Mona Lisa.

Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Formula 409 was literally the inventor’s 409th attempt at making a cleaning product.

See? The world’s most renowned artists, thinkers, and inventors weren’t perfect. None of us are: “To err is human…”

So, why do we let mistakes knock us out of the races we are running for ourselves? Mistakes are stepping stones and learning moments that help us grow stronger and wiser.

Read on to learn how to be good at failing and getting back up again. After all, how to be successful isn’t eliminating failure; it’s getting back up the hundredth time after the falling.


“If at First You Don’t Succeed…

...try, try again.” so the old saying goes. As we got older and became specialized in an area of interest, it’s like we forgot what it’s like not to have all the right answers all the time.

Failure is a learning opportunity. It just means we found one way that didn’t work. As long as we learn something from the experience, we can try again.

Don’t personalize a failure and deem yourself a loser. You shouldn’t view your worth as tied to your success or how much money you make.

Failure has so much potential for good. It all depends on your attitude and point of view. The power of positive thinking, effort, and willingness to persist can make all the difference.

Is it 100% guaranteed that you’ll succeed if you start embracing failure? No, but it significantly improves your odds of success and happiness. The alternative is that you cave to defeat and abandon your goals. And that attitude will never get you anywhere.


Fake It ‘Til You Make It

Some people are born with an unbelievable amount of optimism. Setbacks never seem to stun them. They take everything in stride and aren’t ashamed to be seen failing. They’ll even talk openly about it.

If that isn’t you, there’s hope. Watch and learn from those who get knocked down but get up again. Follow in their footsteps. You may not take it with a grain of salt like they do, but you can try, fail, learn, and repeat just like they do until you reach your goals.

No child ever went from crawling to winning an Olympic gold medal in the 400-meter dash. In the same vein, no entrepreneur or leader ever jumped right to their end goal. No, there are always crawls, wobbles, and assists involved.


The Benefits of Failure

Success requires a bit of failure. Let’s go back to that crawling baby. From crawling to winning an Olympic gold medal, there are a lot of literal baby steps involved. They need to develop balance and strength first. Pulling up on furniture and toddling are a few ways they slowly grow the required muscles.

Any budding entrepreneur, elite athlete, or leader is the same. You can’t expect yourself to get it all right in one swift go because there are many underdeveloped things.

However, understanding the benefits of falling and getting back up again can help you have a better attitude towards failure. And a positive attitude can help you go the distance when the going gets tough.

Below are a few aspects of failure that boost success:


1. It’s A Learning Tool

Setbacks make even better set-ups for success. If you look for the lesson, you’ll gain valuable information to use as you re-try. There is no way to predict every little thing that can happen on your journey. The best we can do is learn and re-approach our goal with newfound knowledge and experience.


2. It Builds A Better You

I love hunting for seaglass because it’s an excellent metaphor for life. We start as sharp-edged brokenness. Then, as life tosses us one obstacle after another, we slowly get smoothed out to where we are these valuable, beautiful pieces of work that others pursue.

Failures do that, not successes. Setbacks build a better us. We become resilient, not wimpy. Empathetic, not indifferent. We are self-aware and work to better our weaknesses. Our connections and relationships with our fellow humans improve as a result.


3. It Leads To Unexpected Creations

If not for failed attempts, we wouldn’t have WD-40. Wheaties would never have been “the breakfast of champions.” And who knows if we’d ever don a vibrant purple piece of clothing if 18-year-old chemist William Perkin didn’t see beyond his inability to make a synthetic version of quinine to cure malaria in 1856. So, you tried something, and it didn’t turn out as hoped. Can you think outside the box and use it in an unexpected way? The Museum of Failure in Washington, D.C., is dedicated to honoring those who took risks and created things they saw a need for.


4. It Helps You Take Healthier Risks

Smart, meaningful risks propel our economies and humankind forward. You can’t always predict what will take off and what won’t. You have to make wise choices and give it your best shot again and again.


Failures Are Stepping Stones

As long as you view mistakes as stepping stones and learning moments, you’ll grow wiser and your ideas stronger. Conversely, if you personalize a failed attempt, you’ll get discouraged and give up.

The only way to lose a race is to drop out. Stay in it and keep heading toward the finish line. Sometimes, you’ll sprint. Other times, you’ll have to walk or crawl–it’s a long way to the end. Keep moving forward, and you’ll be achieving goals left and right.





Dive into the intriguing world of failure and success with our captivating infographic. Explore beneath The Mona Lisa's layers, where da Vinci's persistence shines. Learn from Edison's 10,000 attempts. Formula 409's 409 trials reveal the essence of perseverance. Imperfections shape legends. Embrace failures as guides to growth and resilience. Navigate the path to success with calculated risks and unwavering determination.

4 Failure Takeaways Infographic
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