There is a huge amount of literature that tells us that failure is an essential ingredient to success.
All the experts and gurus tell us that we should embrace failure, because we learn what doesn’t work from failure, because it makes us stronger, exposes us to new opportunities and much more.
That’s all true. If we don’t risk failure then we never accomplish anything.
“If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever.” – Thomas Aquinas.
The problem is though, that most of the experts and gurus speak and write with the hindsight of having overcome their most recent failure and basking in the success of their most recent (and often greatest) achievement. I use the “most recent” qualification deliberately because my own experience of success and failure enhanced by observing others on the roller coaster of life is that failure is always there lurking in the shadows. Waiting for us to misstep, over reach ourselves, get too cocky, take our eye off the ball, there are more than enough expressions and sayings to make the point.
That’s what keep us on our toes and on track for more successes or achievements. It is also what makes eventual success so sweet and so rapidly diminishes the memory of repeated failures.
But it is hard to remember all the benefits of failure when we are struggling to overcome one. That is when success seems the farthest away.
The problem with the idea that failure is an essential part of life and therefore success is that it is difficult to keep remembering that point when trying to get over a failure and reach a goal. More difficult too when failure is not a single cataclysmic event – like bankruptcy, divorce, loss of a business. For many people struggling to make a success of their lives, failure is hard to define. Is it only failure when we give up and stop striving for a goal or is it failure when we continue to go through the motions without achieving any concrete progress? Flogging a dead horse.
The answer to that question will be different for every one, as will the definition of success. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook is by practically all standards a huge success, but after the less than glorious Facebook IPO, he might see that differently.
I am a regular reader of Kevin Hogan’s weekly newsletter Coffee with Kevin Hogan. He publishes a huge amount of interesting and though provoking information. In his most recent newsletter, he wrote that research revealed that millionaires had experienced on average, 3.5 major failures in life, business loss, divorce etc. But those earning between the 50 th – 80 th percentile had only experienced an average of 0.5 major failures.
Isn’t that interesting? Just goes to prove that if you don’t allow yourself to fail, then you don’t allow your self to succeed either.
The complete article is worth reading, here is the link to Kevin Hogan’s newsletter. It’s worth reading. Look for the “28/5 issue of Coffee” in the top left hand corner of the page.
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Wishing you success in all your endeavours.
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