The Power of Failure

If you want to be successful, you must learn how to fail. Though most people only want to talk about their accomplishments, every successful person has experienced failure along the way. Mistakes and mishaps didn’t stop them, and they don’t have to stop you, either.

I’ve often talked about failure and how to bounce back from it. Now, let’s focus on how the greats throughout history dealt with failure and what we can learn from them.

Abraham Lincoln

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.”

Before he was elected President, Abraham Lincoln lost his job, suffered a nervous breakdown, lost the love of his life, and was defeated for state legislature. He failed in business, was defeated multiple times for U.S. senate, and rejected numerous times throughout his life.

It would have been easy for him to conclude he wasn’t meant for politics or any important position within government. Instead, he continued pursuing what he desired. He eventually was elected into state legislature, admitted to practice law, established his own practice, and became President.

What we can learn from President Lincoln:

  • The journey to success isn’t always smooth; it can be full of rejection

  • Being successful may mean not listening or succumbing to the naysayers

Henry Ford

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

Henry Ford experienced multiple setbacks on his way to success. He spent all his investors’ money, without a car to show for it. When he finally did produce a car, his auto company went bankrupt. Ford may have been down, but he wasn’t out. He found another production company to work with and successfully produced the first Model A in 1904 and the Model T in 1908.

What we can learn from Henry Ford:

  • Failure provides us with more knowledge than we started with

  • When one road is blocked, use a different one

Charlotte Brontë

“To value praise or stand in awe of blame we must respect the source whence the praise and blame proceed, and I do not respect an inconsistent critic.”

Charlotte Brontë, author or Jane Eyre, was rejected by numerous publishers before she found success. She was told her work was disinteresting simply because it was written by a woman. In fact, her first novel, The Professor, was rejected nine times before it was finally published—after her death.

But rejection didn’t make Brontë faulter; she continued writing and relentlessly sent her poems and stories to publishers. When Jane Eyre was accepted and published, it was an immediate success and deemed “the best novel of the season.”

What we can learn from Charlotte Brontë:

  • Failure is inevitable; it cannot be avoided

  • Perseverance is the key to success

Failure does not need to be shameful, hidden, or despised. It is simply a step toward success. Ultimately, when we choose to view failure as a natural part of the process, we learn to use it to our benefit. Don’t let it defeat you; turn it into motivation.