You Will Never Succeed More Than You Fail And That’s A Good Thing

Published on: April 25, 2021

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We Will Never Succeed More Than We Fail

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” — Napoleon Hill

How do you define success? Think about your answer over the overcoming paragraphs, since what we believe constitutes success may not be entirely true. For example, most people believe success is about winning and fewer failures, where in fact it is the opposite.

I was watching the American television presenter Steve Harvey, recently who said: “I have failed far more times than I have succeeded. You will never succeed more than you fail… That’s just not how it works. I’ve pitched over 200 show ideas in Hollywood, out of those 200 they have picked 5 in 33 years of pitching.”

So what Harvey is telling us is that his success rate within the last 33 years of pitching ideas to Hollywood is 2.5%. Yet, he is one of the most successful television presenters and comedians, with a net worth of $200 million USD.

To present a similar example, consider the following quote from the basketball legend Michael Jordan: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six 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.”

Are you getting the sense that success is not about repeated wins, but not giving up until we achieve our goals or dreams? How about you? Have you experienced success that changed your life?

I’m not talking about fame or financial windfalls but the success we experience with our health, relationships, career or finances. The one common denominator, as Steve Harvey points out, is that we will never succeed more than we fail; and that’s a good thing. We’ve got to be working away at our goal, to have any chance of achieving success.

Failure Sharpens The Saw Of Our Character

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” — Winston Churchill

In a recent documentary hosted by David Attenborough, a pride of lions living in Africa were followed by a camera crew over twelve-months. Attenborough mentions a lion will fail 9 times out of 10 when hunting prey. A lot can go wrong during a kill, which forces the lion to abandon the hunt.

Therefore, it must try more often in order to feed itself and the pride. Success is the same where it requires commitment and perseverance to achieve our goals. Even then, there are no assurances we will prevail. It takes a strong mindset to achieve success because if we experience repeated failures and setbacks, it can affect our self-esteem.

Has this happened to you with a goal, whether it be personal or professional? It is my experience coaching people over the years; it is rare to meet someone who has the resiliency to keep going in the face of defeat. We need to have a powerful vision for our life, if we want to achieve success. Chances are, the failures and setbacks will stop us in our tracks if we are not committed.

To paint another example, the Navy Seal BUD/S program is designed to weed out those unfit to serve on the front line. The attrition rate is 80% and higher, and that is just the selection process to get into the program.

The attrition rate is high because the program selects only those who are mentally, emotionally and physically skilled at frontline warfare. I appreciate our lives are not as demanding as the Navy Seals entrance program, but success has a high attrition rate because of the resiliency required.

According to the American author Stephen Covey, failure sharpens the saw of our character because it boosts our personal growth. Covey spoke of the need to establish strong habits, and hence why he called it sharpening the saw.

Success Leaves Clues

“Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street.” — Zig Ziglar

Are you getting the sense that success is about who we become in the face of defeat? Zig Ziglar said: “It’s your attitude, not your aptitude that will determine your altitude.” Those we regard as successful have accumulated a lifetime of personal growth to get to where they are.

When I read their biographies, the common denominator is the setbacks they experienced, such as repeated failures, delays and insurmountable odds to reach the pinnacle of their field.

The thing that stands out is their strength of character and the resiliency upon which they create their life. We must fail and fail often, if we wish to achieve any form of success. Moreover, we must examine our failures to see whether we are growing in proportion to them.

However, we mustn’t consider ourselves a failure because failing is not indicative of our self-worth. Failure is a signpost we are trying and the more we try, the greater our chances of succeeding. It bears repeating: we’ve got to be doing the work to have any chance of success. We’ve got to be in the arena doing the gritty work no one else sees or will praise us for.

Knowing this, I invite you to consider an area of your life where you are hoping to succeed. What do you think is holding you back? You might say economic conditions, the Coronavirus pandemic, or something else. May I remind you Jeff Bezos’ wealth grew by $90.1 billion during the pandemic. Bill Gates and other notable billionaires’ personal fortunes also grew during the pandemic.

The point I wish to make is that even during a global crisis, successful people thrive and we can use that to propel us forward. So, take out your journal and write 3 to 5 recent failures you experienced, whether personal or professional. What have you learnt from them? Write how you can use the growth to succeed in the future?

There’s a well-known quote attributed to Tony Robbins who said: “Success leaves clues.” So what clues is success leaving you? Could it be that your failures are sharpening the saw of your character? Journal your answers and take an introspective look within yourself, to see where the opportunities exist. After all, you will never succeed more than you fail because life shape us into the person we wish to become, when success finally arrives on our doorstep.

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