What is failure?
Think a minute.
Did you just define it as not succeeding in whatever you set out to do? Not achieving your goals even after hard work? Watching your plans fall flat?
No, that’s not failure. Failure is giving up without even trying. Failure is fear that you won’t win so you might as well not even run. Failure is hedging your bets when you actually really want to go all out for something. Failure is not pursuing a dream because you’re afraid of disappointment when that dream doesn’t become a reality. Failure is contentment with just staying put. Failure is a bump on a log.
That’s how Sara Blakey views failure. The founder and CEO of Spanx recounts a fascinating question her father used to ask around the dinner table: “What have you failed at this week?” If she’d failed at something, he’d give her a high five—because failure meant she had tried.
“My dad would actually be disappointed if I didn’t have something that I’d failed at that week…. Failure, for me, became not trying…. Once you redefine that for yourself and realize the ‘failure’ is just not trying, then life opens up to you in many ways.”
So how will YOU define failure? Better yet, how will you deal with it? Take inspiration from these similar viewpoints:
“Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” – Denis Waitley
“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
“Giving up is the only sure way to fail.” – Gena Showalter
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy
“We are all failures—at least the best of us are.” – J.M. Barrie
“Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.” – Robert T. Kiyosaki
“Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success. I’ve met people who don’t want to try for fear of failing.” – J.K. Rowling
The Train You Take to Success
Success can come out of failure, just like it has for these influential people:
- Oprah Winfrey got fired from her first job as a television anchor.
- Walt Disney was told he had little imagination and bad ideas, and got fired from his first position as a newspaper editor.
- J.K. Rowling lost her job and was living on welfare as a single parent before she wrote Harry Potter.
- Harrison Ford was told he should get out of the movie business.
- Dr. Seuss was ignored by 27 publishers before his first book was taken seriously.
- Tina Fey was denied many commercial casting calls, including one for McDonalds.
- Steve Jobs was fired from Apple before making a comeback as its world-famous CEO
- GoPro creator Nick Woodman’s first two startup companies failed miserably.
- Bill Gates’s first company (Traf-O-Data) failed because the demo didn’t work.
- Sir James Dyson created 5127 versions of the first vacuum before Dyson took off.
Does failure shut you down? Or does it propel you into a better, more tenacious future? Let’s turn our failures into victories. Starting now.
If you’ve tried a career and flopped, or if you don’t know which one to pursue, take our discovery questionnaire to start your path to success!