Some of Our Favorites Knew Failure Before They Knew Success

Failure. It’s much like going to the going to the dentist. We all dread it but it happens sooner or later. We anxiously anticipate the pain it will bring but in the end, we are stronger and healthier.

Michael Jordan, one of the greatest basketball players of all time, wisely said, “I have failed over and over and over again in my life. That is why I succeed.”

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Many of the world’s greatest have experienced more failures than the average person. Why? They didn’t let failure stop them. They kept trying.

They didn’t define failure as a time of losing but as a time of learning.

Failure didn’t paralyze them, it fueled their perseverance.

Failure didn’t make them retreat, it made them retry – over and over and over again until they succeeded.

Here are a few of my favorite stories of people who accomplished grand things because they didn’t give up…

–       Henry Ford – The industrialist wasn’t an instant success. Nope – his first five businesses failed and left him broke before he finally found success in Ford Motor Company.

–       Walt Disney – Today we call him a creative genius but one of his first bosses didn’t agree. He fired Walt Disney from his job as a newspaper editor claiming he, “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” He didn’t find success overnight. He started a number of businesses that all failed and ended in bankruptcy before he gave us Disney World and Mickey Mouse.

–       Abraham Lincoln – One of the greatest leaders in American history did not always have leadership qualities. As a youth he headed off to war as a captain but returned home with the ranking of private – the lowest possible. He started a number of businesses that failed. He was defeated numerous times running for political office before becoming President

–       Winston Churchill – The Noble Peace Prize winner and two-time-elected Prime Minister of the U.K. flunked out of 6th grade (this gives hope to all us parents). He lost every public election that he ran for until becoming Prime Minister at the ripe old age of 62. I’m sure he used this same perseverance to convince the world to fight Hitler.

–       Jerry Seinfeld – Our well-loved funny man didn’t always make people laugh. The first time he went on stage he froze and was eventually booed off the stage. He knew he had what it took and returned the following night and received laughter and applause.

Failure is not a wall that keeps us from succeeding but a tool that shows who is willing to climb the wall in order to succeed. It builds perseverance and endurance – qualities that will also be needed for the day success arrives. It’s not easy running a large company, a media empire and to endure a war.

Our biggest failures happen when success comes too soon.

What failure stories inspire you?

What have failures taught you?



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