Success is Nothing Without Failure


People fail.  Failure sucks.  I mean it really sucks, especially when you’re one of those striving to be the best.  What’s funny (in a non-amusing way) is we often seem to fail again, and again, and again. We spend a good chunk of our lives dreaming about what could be.  Where can we go?  Who can we be?  What can we accomplish?  It’s sad when circumstances come crashing down from above.  But what if that crash wasn’t really a negative?  What if we’re looking at it the wrong way and failure is needed for success?  That change of mind may actually help in our next venture.

Success is coveted by all of us so why do so few reach it?  Why don’t they go through the same crap we do?  News flash!  They do.  Most of your idols didn’t just make it there.  They overcame great failures on a myriad of occasions.  What separates them from the rest is their tenacity to keep pushing forward. They shun doubt and go for it again. Our greatest heroes are not typically born on top, they’ve hit bottom and still managed to find crawl, leap, press towards their hilltop.  While keeping that in mind, let’s glance at some of the best who found themselves in the same position we’re in today:

-Smithsonian Mag

-Smithsonian Mag

KFC’s Colonel Sanders:  Lesser known by his full name Harland David Sanders, the Colonel actually faced many setbacks.  He was fired from a dozen jobs.  He was once a lawyer who assaulted his own client in court (probably not the best way to earn repeat business). His first foray into restaurant ownership ended up failing and left the man broke.  It wasn’t until 65 years old, with hardly a cent to his name, where he found an investor and began KFC, becoming the legend he is today.  If not for the lessons of past failure he wouldn’t have had the handbook to success.

Lincoln01Abraham Lincoln: Mr. Lincoln is known as one of the greatest men this country has seen.  It’s easy to look at his list of accommodations and feel everything he touched was gold. What most don’t know is his long list of defeat. In 1832 his run for legislature took a beating and Abe lost his job.  The following year in 1833 his new business venture collapsed. In 1835 his lover died which led to a nervous breakdown. 1838 found him defeated as Speaker and 1843 he was rejected entry from Congress. The next 10 years brought another 5 lost nominations, including a Vice Presidential defeat in 1856 and US Senate misstep in 1858.  Heck, if this man didn’t keep pushing forward he wouldn’t have become the human we know and love.  Finally in1860, when he was finally elected President, an even more prestigious position than what he’d sought came to light and an avenue to shine came forth.

A celebration of the 150th anniversary of the birth of company founder Henry Ford will be held throughout 2013. Go to for an interactive timeline of Ford's life, tours, a calendar of 2013 events and information about efforts to preserve Henry Ford's heritage. (12/11/2012)

Henry Ford:  Ford Motor Company is one of the greatest American success stories.  The company didn’t take a dollar from the Federal Government during the Recession of 2008, a remarkable feat and show of stability.  The funny thing is Henry’s success came after a number of failed iterations. His first venture with the Quadricycle saw all of his investment dry up without producing a vehicle. Detroit Auto Company raised another round of investors and produced a car but went bankrupt after 2 years in 1901 with over $86,000 lost (that’s over $2.1 million in today’s money). It wasn’t until a 3rd round his vision started to grow and Henry’s dreams began to turn into reality.

-Smithsonian Mag

-Smithsonian Mag

Thomas Edison:  Simply, his teachers stated he was “Too stupid to learn anything.”  He fought against teachers and schools who didn’t want to accept him.  That seems like a stretch for the man who invented the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and the electric light bulb.

The point here is many of the greatest, most successful individuals took a hard beating in life.  Many of them were criticized for what they loved and did best.  What separates them from the everyday-man is their tenacity to get up and get at it again.  Without that last push they would not have become the legends they are today.  Keep pushing, keep being beaten down, keep hearing “No,” because you never know if the next thing is your greatest thing.