What can we learn from failure?

Do you want to know the real secret to success? It is not dedication, commitment, hard work, smart work, passion, or even habits. You’re not going to like the answer. The real secret to success is managing your failures. What can we learn from failure? We need to ask ourselves this question!

The truth is that we learn the most from our failures. But there is a problem though, most of us hate to fail. We tend to do everything we can to stay away from failure.

  • We scared of public speaking.
  • We don’t want to venture out of our comfort zone.
  • We resist change.
  • We give up the moment we put in the effort but receive no results.
  • We are afraid that others may look down on us.
  • We don’t want others to humiliate us.

As much as we want to get away from failure, it is inevitable. Regardless of whether we like it or not, failure happens to all of us.

If you say that you have never experienced any failure in your life, think again. Albert Einstein once said:

“If you have never failed, you have never tried anything new.”

My friend, you have to understand that your past failures are going to influence your future success.

Most people are afraid to fail because they have been conditioned to believe that failure is the opposite of success, which in fact, it is really not.

Failure is not the opposite of success, it is part of success. How can you be successful without going through failures?

One of the greatest inventors, Thomas Edison (Thomas Edison: story of inventor and businessman, The power of the mind – Thomas Edison), once told a reporter that he has not failed, but instead, he has learned and discovered 10,000 ways that were not working.

Not just Thomas Edison, it happens to all the successful people who have achieved remarkable results in life.

Michael Jordan says that he has missed more than 9,000 shots in his career, lost over 300 games, and 26 times he has been trusted to take the game-winning shot, but he missed. He says that he has failed over and over again in his basketball career, and that is why he succeeds.

The same thing happened to Harland David Sanders (Colonel Harland Sanders Biography: Inspiring History of KFC), or famously known as Colonel Sanders of KFC. He had a hard time selling his chicken recipe at first. In fact, he was rejected for 1,009 times before he finally received a “yes” from a restaurant owner who accepted his offer.

Therefore, don’t be afraid to fail, my friend.

Failure is golden when you know what you can learn from it. And this is what this article is all about. Here are the lessons that we can learn from our failures.

There is no guaranteed success

Whether you like it or not, I have to tell you the fact that there is no guaranteed to succeed. No matter how much effort or how hard you work, your success is not guaranteed.

Even if you have the degree from Harvard or Stanford, that doesn’t mean that you will surely become a millionaire or your success in life will be guaranteed. No, not at all, my friend.

Yes, things can go wrong, but that doesn’t mean that you should not do it. Even when you may experience failure, you should still go for it. Pursue your dreams and be committed to achieving your goals.

Perhaps, the best example is Elon Musk (Elon Musk: success story of the 21st Century innovator), the founder of Tesla and SpaceX.

Elon Musk once shared with the press: “I thought we would most likely fail. But I thought that we at least could address the false perception people have that an electric car had to be ugly and slow and boring like a golf cart.”

Musk expected that he is going to fail in his venture. The question is that why does he want to do it when he did not expect to succeed? Below was his answer:

“If something’s important enough you should try. Even if you know the probable outcome is failure.”

Musk also continued to say, “Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”

No wonder this guy is so successful. He knows that failure is inevitable, but he goes on ahead and does it anyway.

This is how success works.

If you’re not doing anything, not pursuing your dreams, and not acting on your goals, I can guarantee you that you have already failed.

Taking action does not mean that you are going to be successful and produce the results you want, but you greatly improve the odds of success.

When you do it, you increase your chances of success. Success may not be a guarantee, but if you’re willing to work on it, it becomes a possibility.

And if you committed to it, work on it consistently, persist, never give up and learn from your failures, the possibility of success becomes more certain.

Extraordinary people know this. And this is exactly why they go on ahead and do it, even when they know that they may fail.

What about you?

You’re not good enough!?

If you fail in your attempt, no matter it is to start a business venture or to switch to a new career, it means that you’re not good enough.

This is hard to swallow, but it is a fact.

It is the reason you fail. You’re not good enough. You lose the game. You fail to hit your target. You lose your most valuable client. Your spouse leaves you. Your business fails and you’re in deep debt.

You failure shows you that you’re not good.

BUT, you have to understand that your failure also tells you that you can improve and do better.

There are rooms for improvement, my friend.

So don’t just look at failure from the negative side. While it is true that if you fail it means that you are no good, it is also a fact that failure means that you can do and perform better.

Hence, be fair. Most people only see the first part of failure and think that they are not good enough and that is why they fail.

They fail to see the second part, where failure is trying to show them that they can improve and do better.

I like this quote from Tony Robbins:

“Success in life is the result of good judgment. Good judgment is usually the result of experience. And experience is usually the result of bad judgment.”

The key is that you must learn from your failure. You must treat failure as a feedback and not just a failed result.


Let’s face it. We all fail.

As we go through life we have relationships that don’t work out, jobs that just aren’t right, exams that we flunk, initiatives that don’t succeed. The more new things we try the more failures we are likely to have. In fact, the only way to avoid failure is to do nothing new.

The important thing is how we deal with failure. It can be part of a downward slide in which lack of confidence reinforces feelings of inadequacy and incompetence. But experiencing failure can be a learning experience and an opportunity for a fresh start. A good way to begin this process is by asking yourself some tough questions.

When you have failed, ask yourself these five questions:

What can I learn from this?

Take responsibility for what went wrong. OK, so it was not all your fault – but some of it was. Successful people don’t make excuses or blame others. They take ownership of the issues. Be critical but constructive. Try to look at the experience objectively. Make a list of the key things that happened. Analyze the list step-by-step and look for the learning points.

What could I have done differently?

What other options did you have? What choices did you make? How could you have handled it differently? With the benefit of hindsight, what different steps would you have taken?

Do I need to acquire or improve some skills?

Did the problem reveal some lack of skill on your part? How could you learn or improve those skills? Perhaps there are books or courses or people you could turn to. Make a self-development plan to acquire the skills and experiences you need.

Who can I learn from?

Is there someone to whom you can turn to for advice? Did a boss, colleague or a friend see what happened? If they are constructive and supportive then ask them for some feedback and guidance. Most people do not ask for help because they believe it to be a sign of weakness rather than strength. It’s not. It shows that you are ready to learn and change. Any good friend will be happy to help.

What will I do next?

Now draw up an action plan. Will you try something similar or something different? Revisit your goals and objectives. This reversal has been a setback on your journey but think of it as a diversion rather than a halt. You can now reset your sights on your destination and plan a new course.

If you read the life stories of successful people – especially inventors, explorers, scientists or statesmen – you will find that their early careers are littered with failures. Walt Disney, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford are typical examples. Abraham Lincoln, suffered many defeats in his career in politics including losing the nomination for vice president in 1856 and his second run at being a U.S. Senator in 1858. Two years later he was elected president.

The important point is to use your setbacks as learning experiences and make them stepping stones to future success. There are always positives you can take from every episode in your life. Asking yourself these five questions can help find them.

When you fail, it means that you’re not good enough, and it also means that you can do better. So, switch your mindset and think of what you can learn and do better in the future.

The world can be nasty and unfair, so you must stand strong and build stronger characters!

Sometimes, you may have poured in a lot of effort, work harder than most people, and have done your best, but you can still fail in the end.

You have to understand that the world can be a nasty place and things can be unfair. And thus, you must stand strong and build stronger characters.

Who would have thought that Steve Jobs (Steve Jobs: success story of a great American inventor), the founder of Apple was fired from the company that he had started. And then he started a company called NeXT, which was bought by Apple, and at the twist of the event, Jobs returned to Apple and became the CEO again.

And who would have thought that Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because it was said that Disney lacked ‘creativity and imagination’.

As you can see, the world can be unfair and the competition is high. If you’re not standing tall, keep on improving yourself and your business, eventually, your competitor will put you out of the game.

Look at the once market leaders such as Nokia, Motorola, Netscape, Yahoo!, Alta Vista, Friendster, and more.

These companies were once super successful and leading the market, but today, most of them were gone.

If you’re not innovating and improving faster than the market changes, soon enough, you, your company, and your products can become obsolete.

When you look at nature, it may seem cruel because the world is operated based on the principle of the survival of the fittest.

The same goes for our world. If you’re not improving yourself, you’re not learning, and you’re not building a stronger character, you’ll soon be left out. This is especially true in the business world.

Just like how I’m running this blog!

If I’m not innovating, not learning to write better, and not marketing it, eventually, my readers will go somewhere where other bloggers are performing better.

Always remember this quote:

“Success is not for the fainthearted. Brace up for the life challenges and be ready to overcome the obstacles in your journey.”

So be tough my friend!

You have to be flexible?

Failure means that you’re unable to change fast enough to fit in to the current situation.

You have to be flexible in order to process change, which will then prevent you from failing.

You have to be like water, my friend. This is what Bruce Lee said:

“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”

Many come to know Bruce Lee as a famous martial artist, but little did they know that Bruce is also a great philosopher.

When you look at all the big and successful companies in the world, those that are able to change and adapt quickly enough often become the market leaders.

On the other hand, those that are not flexible in their approach, usually suffer the consequences.

Look at “Toy’s R Us”, it’s sad to see that such a big company has to close down because they’re unable to adapt to the fast-changing environment.

The internet has truly evolved the way things work in our lives. We used to go to the bank for most transactions, but today, most of the transactions can be done online.

When I was still a child, typist was a real profession. When personal computers came around, things changed. Everyone can be a typist and it killed the profession.

What’s more interesting to note is that people are becoming authors and writers, not through the traditional means, but by building a platform using the internet, such as social media.

Before the internet, the opportunity of becoming a writer is only meant for the few, but today, everyone can write, publish, and build an audience.

People self-published books and listed them on Amazon, and guess what, they are able to become a best-selling writer from doing so.

It’s amazing how things have changed.

Having said all these, the one thing that you can learn from your failure is to be flexible.

If you’re not flexible and are not able to adapt to the changes fast enough, soon you will be left out of the game.

Many years ago, I came across a quote from Charles Darwin that proved flexibility is crucial:

“It’s not the strongest, but the most adaptable that survive.”

Success is not a one-hit-wonder!

If you think that success is all about having that ONE opportunity, you’re wrong. Failures are there to stop you.

Well, failures are not really there to stop you, but they are there to grow you.

What I want to say is that success is not a one-time thing. It does take a lot of effort and attempts to create outstanding results in life.

Take a look at all the successful YotTubers. Do you think that they uploaded one video and viola, they become a celebrity overnight?

No, not at all. Take PSY, the Korean singer for the hit song, “Oppa Gangnam Style” as an example. PSY totally crushed it after he released his song Gangnam Style in 2012.

The song became the first video in the history of the Internet to surpass one billion views.

After that song, PSY became so famous that it launched his career as a singer and shot his fame to stardom. Was he lucky? Well, maybe!?

What is more important to note is that PSY did not become a singer in 2012., “Gangnam Style” is not his first song too.

He started his career as a singer and released his first album back in the year 2001, almost a decade ago. Back then, nobody knows about him or his songs.

It took him a little over ten years to keep trying, writing new songs, singing every day, improving his skills, innovating his style, and eventually, he created Gangnam Style that skyrocketed his success.

Most people only look at success from the surface. What they see is only the tip of the iceberg, but they never realize that there were huge efforts, persistence, commitment, and failures behind every big success.

Hence, when you fail, tell yourself that it is absolutely alright and perfectly normal. People fail every single day.

Babies who are learning to walk fall down very often. But do they give up and stop learning how

So don’t expect to achieve success with just one hit.

You may have to go through a lot of setbacks and experience a lot of failures, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be successful.

Going through failure is about transforming yourself!

For most people, earning $1 million a year is a huge amount. But for people like Bill Gates (Bill Gates: story of Microsoft co – founder), Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg (Mark Zuckerberg: success story of Facebook founder), and those who are on the billionaire’s list, earning $1 million a year can be a small amount.

Therefore, achieving success and going through failure is about raising your standards. It is about transforming yourself to become a better person.

The majority of the people out there think that success is the end result that they get. They think that it is a destination, which in fact, it is not.

People often forget to consider other factors such as characters, attitudes, habits, and mindsets.

Think about it, if you switch place with Warren Buffett today, do you think that you can still become as wealthy as he is now?

Not likely. Warren Buffett is a billionaire investor because of what he has gone through. His experience, his perception, his thinking, his habits, and his attitudes play a role in determining his success.

Even if you take his place, you won’t be able to make decisions or think like he did.

Success is a journey, my friend. It is a journey of going through failures where you get to improve and hone your skills to become a better person.

I like the word “metamorphosis”. It sounds cool and it describes your transformation.

A caterpillar has to go through metamorphosis in order to transform itself into a beautiful butterfly.

You too, have to go through metamorphosis to transform yourself into someone worthy of success.

Without having the character, the quality, and the mindset of a successful person, you cannot achieve the success you desire.

Your failures are telling you that you should go through metamorphosis. Failures are showing you where to improve so that you can transform to become someone better.

You’re still well and alive!

When you fail in whatever you do, there are two choices for you:

You can choose to continue to stay there or quit, or

You can choose to stand up again and bounce back.

So what if you have failed? Well, nothing, you’re still okay and are still alive. What’s the big deal, just get over it, stand up, dust yourself off, and you’re good to go again.

Failure tells us that we are still alive. Even after going through the failure, we’re still able to survive the blow and we can choose to bounce back, that is, if we want to.

Hence, don’t be afraid to try, to make attempt, or to do something you really love.

Many of us are so afraid of the consequences of failure and we limit and stop ourselves from trying something new.

  • “What if I fail?”
  • “What if things don’t work out?”
  • “What if I’m in debt?”
  • “What if she rejects me?”

All these thoughts are what stopping you from taking action.

If you confess to someone and she rejects you, guess what, it is alright, you’re still alive.

What if you start a business and fail? Well, most successful businesses started out as a failure anyway. So what’s the big deal?

Yes, you may put yourself in a tough situation like when you fail in your business venture, you may end up in deep debt.

However, you are still alive. There is a price to pay if you want to be successful.

Of course, I’m not asking you to quit your job, loan money, start a business tomorrow, and when you fail, you’ll come to me because I’m the one who says that it is alright to be in debt.

No, don’t get me wrong here!

What I’m saying is that don’t be afraid to fail because most failures in life are not so much about life and death, it is more about managing your mindset.

Many times, we procrastinate and we fail to act on our dreams is because of our own thinking.

We focus on the negative thoughts of “what if things went wrong” and overwhelm ourselves with the fear, which eventually stops us from progressing.

Think about it, fear only happens in your head. You haven’t even tried or do anything yet, but you’re already defeated by your own thinking.

And even if you have failed, it is alright.

You still can make a comeback. You can still bounce back higher.

Like I said, you have two choices. You can choose to give up, stay where you are, and let failure defeats you. Or, you can choose to stand up stronger and bounce back higher.

You are in control of your life through choices and decisions!

One of the key lessons we all should learn from our failures is that we are in control.

Success and failure are all about making the right choices in life. When we make the wrong choice, we fail. When we make the right decision, we succeed.

It all boils down to the daily decisions and choices that we make. In other words, we have full control of our success and failure.

No matter what you want to do in your life or what you want to achieve, you are in control.

If you want to build a successful blog, what are the things that you’re doing each day? Are you making the decision to write every single day? Or do you choose to watch TV or surf YouTube instead?

It is your choice. You have can make the decision and commit to your goals, or you can also choose to procrastinate and delay your goals.

Whatever you do, you are in control. You have the ability to do something today to give either positive or negative impact on your future.

You choose to procrastinate on your exercise plan, and you will suffer the negative consequences of gaining weight.

You choose to act on your plan and exercise daily, and you will experience the positive impact of having more energy and feeling vibrant.

I can choose not to write anything right now about this article. I can choose to stop and do something else. Luckily, I make the right decision to continue writing this article. You’re able to read this right now.

Going through success and failure is a matter of making the right choices and decisions.

And we all have the ability to make the choice.

If you’re not living the life you want right now, you can choose to make some changes and improve.

If you’ve failed, you can choose to stay there or you can choose to treat the failure as feedback, learn from it, and then do better the next time.

It’s your call. It’s your choice. And it’s your life.

When we fail in life, it implies that we have made the wrong decisions previously. And we can choose to make it right. Remember, it is your decisions and not your conditions that determine your destiny. And because it is your decision, you are the one that is in control of your life.

Failure is just a word used to describe the situation when we did not receive the result we want. It doesn’t need to be something bad.

Receiving a result that is not what you expected can be a good sign of telling you what went wrong and so that you can make an adjustment and get the right result.

The problem is that people linked failure to the things that they want least and they have conditioned themselves to believe that failure is the opposite of success.

There are many things we can learn from failures, and one of them is to switch our mindset and to treat failure as feedback.

When failure becomes feedback to improving yourself, you’ll become unstoppable. And your success will be certain.


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