Mistakes & Failures are the Key to Success

Published by: Andrew Paul    |   Category: Blog, Business, Ramblings    


How many of you think mistakes and failures are a good thing? I don’t see too many hands in the air. Most people usually view mistakes and failures as negative. I would challenge you to look at failures and mistakes positively.

Mistakes and Failures

We are often fearful of admitting our mistakes or making them to start with, because most feel it would make them look vulnerable, weak, stupid or a bad business decision maker. Making mistakes should be seen as something positive, because it shows that you have tried something new, different or difficult and didn’t quite get it right on your first attempt. Many successful people, including Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Henry Ford all made mistakes and had failures along their path to success. It took Henry Ford three times to get it right. He went bankrupt in his attempt to build a car company, then was fired from his second endeavor and finally made it on his third try. All of these very successful people could have simply given up after making mistakes or based upon their past failures, but they didn’t. They learned from their mistakes and failures, changed direction and blazed their own path to success.

I believe that most successful people look at mistakes and failures much differently than the average person. Most successful people don’t look at mistakes and failures as negative. They look at them as a learning experience and take what they learned, make the appropriate changes and try again. To be successful, we need to change our attitude and how we view mistakes. Mistakes and failures should not be something we are ashamed of. We should encourage people to discuss and admit their mistakes in an effort to learn from them.

Failures are generally valuable lessons learned by people that ensure they never make the same mistake again. Obviously, it’s not acceptable to make the same mistake twice, as all successful people are not afraid of making mistakes but they don’t make the same mistake twice. As an example, Thomas Edison’s attitude toward mistakes during his quest to develop the light bulb: “I have not failed; I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. It is exactly this attitude and his ability to learn from mistakes that enabled him to eventually succeed. Edison also said “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

What is Success?

The definition of success is:
1. The accomplishment of an aim or purpose.
2. The attainment of popularity or profit.

Is success understood as owning a large home or nice car? Are you successful if you make a lot of money or are the CEO of a successful email marketing company? Success can be interpreted by many different people, many different ways. You could be a great parent to your children, by learning from your mistakes, which makes you a success. You can have lots of money in the bank, be a mentor, help the less fortunate, or graduate from college. Being a success is what you understand the word success to mean and being successful in your own mind.

Without mistakes there would be no progress or success. Be comfortable in your mistakes and your failures in your pursuit of success. Don’t be ashamed of making mistakes, but be sure you learn from them and you don’t repeat them. And, of course, never give up on chasing your dream; no matter how many times failure gets in your way.

I feel that success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.

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One Response to Mistakes & Failures are the Key to Success

  1. Miguel A. Garcia says:

    Well written Andrew!

    I totally agreed with your views on it. One day a student asked me: what’s your definition of an expert, I replied an individual that knows well his/her subject matter of expertise; to what he responded: no, an expert is that individual that has made all possible mistakes in his/her subject matter of expertise!

    Andrew, as you quoted on Thomas Edison: “I have not failed; I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. …you need to fail to know what doesn’t work!

    I believe that your article is a great wake-up call to those up there in leadership positions, specially those that others view as role models to follow, to digest your message and insert it as a daily remainder about “YES”… it’s OK to fail, but they also need to preach about it, so that those walking their early steps to success, never give-up!

    Thank you!