What Can We Learn From the Failures of Very Successful People?

James Logie


Failure scares us all, and I’m sure you avoid it like the plague. We live in a society that if you’re not constantly achieving and progressing, you must be failing.

You may feel like this pressure can make others look down on you and ultimately you look down on yourself.

Failure is something that you should learn to embrace as it goes hand in hand with success and progress.

Some of the most famous people in history failed time and time again and state how critical it was for helping them persevere.

Here are a few ways for you to see the upside of failure, learn not to be afraid of it, but use it to propel you forward.

Failure Leads You to New Opportunities

Whatever path you may be on, you can’t be sure where it will lead you.

As much as you may have laid out concrete plans, there may be another path that better suits you.

Failure can lead to something bigger and better. This can be something you may never have considered because of being on a very stringent path.

Sharing my own personal example of playing a top level of baseball; failure to advance further opened me up into personal training and health coaching.

This has given me the opportunity to help thousands of people — something that may not have been possible if I had stayed the original course.

Someone a little more well known than me — Oprah — who was fired as an anchor from her first TV job has stated,

“There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.”

Some of the Greatest People in History Constantly Failed

It’s nice to know you’re not alone in this area as the list of household names who had massive failures is a long one.

Look to some of these people as inspiration when you hit your own failure point.

They may have thought their world was ending but were led to bigger and better things.

Besides Oprah, here are a few other classic examples:

  • J. K. Rowling was rejected 12 times by publishers for a little book about a boy wizard
  • The Beatles after being rejected by Decca Records were told: “they have no future in show business.”
  • Steven Spielberg dropped out of high school and was rejected 3 times when applying for film school
  • Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard and then also started a failed computer business called Traf-O-Data. He notes to “heed the lessons of failure.”
  • Technology and entertainment company Rovio attempted to make a hit game 52 different times. On attempt number 53, they created Angry Birds.
  • Theodor Seuss Geisel aka Dr. Seuss had his first book rejected by 27 different publishers.

Failure Gets You One Step Closer to Success

So you’ve failed in some attempt in your life — Great! That means you’re on the right path and the sooner you fail in something, the sooner you get to move forward.

After a while, you’ll stop looking at failure from a sense of fear but embrace it as taking that step forward in the right direction.

Thomas Edison continues to be a well-known failure story as he went through 1,000 failures before hitting on the light bulb. His takeaway — that you can apply to your own situation — was this;

“I have not failed 10,000 times… I have succeeded in proving those 10,000 ways will not work.”

Failure is like a stepping stone that helps get you toward your ultimate goal.

To me, the best example of failure working for you and not against you comes from the great Michael Jordan.

This is a pretty popular quote but shows the importance of perseverance and embracing failure:

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Photo by Charlotte Karlsen on Unsplash

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Personal trainer, podcaster, Amazon best-selling author. Writing about some health, a little marketing, and a whole lot of 1980s.


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