Friday 2 January 2015

Why Success Often Begins With Failure

"Behind every success story is an embarrassing first effort, a stumble, a setback, a radical change in direction." (Amy Crawford)

Think back to your child's first steps.  I know when Thomas learned to walk, he didn't just decide to take off one day.  He started with rolling over...crawling...pulling himself to a standing position... furniture walking...and then taking off for a Christmas stocking hanging on the door knob.  

It's the same with riding a bike.  When Jacqueline first learned to ride a bike, we took her to the church parking lot.  She rode around it several times on her training wheels.  One day, Thomas took the training wheels off her bicycle and she rode on the grass beyond the parking lot (just in case she wiped out).  After some wobbling, she started to balance on the bicycle.  The next day, she took off across the parking lot.  

Failure is an essential part of success.  And yet we try so hard to avoid it.  Seth Fiegerman discovered this to be true after graduating from New York University, landing a research editor job at Playboy, and promptly being laid off.  While at the magazine, he had discovered archives interviews with celebrities from Marlon Brando to Malcolm X.  The common thread in most of the interviews was how the celebrities turned their failures into successes.  

Seth realized that perseverance, not innate talent, was each celebrities most important asset.  He started a website,, illustrating the origin's of famous people's careers.  In the meantime, the unemployed writer was able to secure a job at a tech news website.

Thomas Edison, more than most, knew the value of failure.  Failure was what led to many of his 2,332 inventions including the incandescent light bulb.  The inventor explained that:  "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."  

It seems like the only failure is in giving up, or in not trying in the first place.  Whether your task is something as unusual as inventing a light bulb, or as commonplace as learning how to walk, the key is to embrace failure...until you succeed.

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