Failure is the Key to Success

“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.” ~ Michael Jordan

There’s nothing worse than working your ass off only to fail.

But it’s okay to fail.  Failure is just the first step towards success. Our failures give us an opportunity to reflect on why things didn’t happen as we’d hoped. We should embrace our mistakes in order to learn from them. Most of all, we should continue taking risks, even if we might fail.

Some of the most respected people in history have failed miserably, only to persevere and become wildly successful. Here are but a few examples:

Publishers rejected Stephen King’s first book thirty times. Frustrated, King decided to give up, throwing the book in the trash. His wife took it out, encouraging him to submit it again. Today, King has hundreds of published books, and is one of the best-selling authors of all time.

Walt Disney was fired because, according to his editor, he lacked imagination and had no good ideas. After starting a number of failed businesses, he eventually found the recipe for success. Today, Disney brings in billions of dollars from merchandise sales, movies and theme parks around the world.

Albert Einstein didn’t speak until he was four, and didn’t read until he was seven, leading his teachers and parents to believe he was mentally handicapped. In 1921,  he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics “for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect.”

Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting (to a friend for a very small amount of money) while he was alive. Even though he was never a success during his lifetime, he kept painting. Today, his paintings are worth millions.

After a single performance, the manager of the Grand Ole Opry told Elvis Presley, “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.” He went on to become one of the best-selling artists of all time, and is still a household name today.

Thomas Edison’s teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” As an inventor, Edison made a thousand unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail a thousand times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail a thousand times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

This post was inspired by 100 Words On: Why It Pays to Never Give Up by Len Penzo

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