How Failure Can Elevate Your Success


“You can feel uncertain and be ready. You can be afraid and do it anyway. You can fear rejection and still go for it.”


Did you know that the Pope had to chase down Michelangelo for years, convincing him he was capable of creating the masterpiece we know as the Sistine Chapel? He was convinced he was getting set-up. That he was being recommended for a job that he could never accomplish or finish.

So, here’s a loaded question that many of us bury inside… what if I fail? What if I’m not good enough?

Listen darling, failure is an essential part of life. It is a stepping-stone to success. It is not an alternative to.

Harvard, 2008, JK Rowling gave a commencement speech where she said:
It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case you fail by default.”

Despite understanding that failure is a common and integral component of what it is to be human, we are terrified of it. The stark comparison of success and failure is a perspective used to instil stress, not inspire. We label ourselves as failures when we fail. We pull it in and integrate it into WHO we are.

I see two significant problems with our fear of failure:

1. We do not know how to handle it when it inevitably occurs.

2. Many of us fear failure to the point of not trying at all. Not even trying!

If you ask anyone “successful”, or someone who you perceive as successful in your eyes, I guarantee you that they will say that they have failed many times in their journey. They prioritized discipline over failure.

Don’t allow any situation you are in, disadvantages, privileges, wins or losses allow you to re-define who you are. Do not get lost in the noise of societal expectations or a twisted version of who you feel you are supposed to be.

“Take your fear and place it with the fear of not trying. The fear of staying closed off, scared and insecure. Allow the fear of a cautious life to outweigh your fear of what it takes to attain an incredible one.”

I have yet to meet a toddler who falls numerous times attempting to walk, then finally decides to give up because they have fallen. I have yet to meet one toddler who decides, walking just isn’t for them. In fact what you do see with young children is that they get braver, stronger and more resilient. The more they fall, the more they understand how capable they are of withstanding a fall. They begin to climb, push boundaries and expand what they consider to be possible. They USE their failure to their advantage. They do not compare themselves to their peers. They do not instil an arbitrary timeline on themselves. They just keep working.

So where did this grit go?

Let’s explore how we can re-discover our love of failure! Yes love. Failure provides the truest lessons, essential for our success.

1. Failure highlights the essentials:

Many times after failure, we have deconstructed the limitations we have previously placed on ourselves. We have nothing left to lose and feel unsatisfied with our outcome. Allow rock bottom to become your solid foundation. When you strip it all away, you only see yourself for what you are – capable, strong and determined. Become unsatisfied with the status quo.

2. Failure makes you self-assured:

You will only discover your capabilities from being pushed, not passing. The grit, determination and focus you have are a by-product of getting pushed. You discover a wiser part of you that is able to withstand and rise.

3. Some of the more important things are ONLY learned through failure:

Failure teaches us much more than success. Yes, failure is harder, more painful and uncomfortable than success but it will give us more than only achieving ever will. Failure sweetens success. A hard-won fight keeps you grounded in gratitude, willing to fight bigger and stronger battles, pushing you to your limits, in order to re-define them.

4. Failure doesn’t have to exist:

What if you only considered failures lessons – difficult and shitty but effective lessons. Both failure and success are transient, meaning they are temporary in your life. Our lives are a collection of messy and beautiful. Having the mind-set and willingness to accept it all, allows happiness to occur despite anything.

If you are still afraid, be afraid. That’s okay and completely normal. Take your fear and place it with the fear of not trying. The fear of staying closed off, scared and insecure. Allow the fear of a cautious life to outweigh your fear of what it takes to attain an incredible one.

Let’s put something into perspective for a minute:

• Babe Ruth struck out 1330 times.

• James Dyson created over 5100 prototypes of the Dyson vacuum.

• Edison made 1000 attempts at inventing the light bulb. When asked by a reporter “how does it feel to fail 1000 times” he responded, “I didn’t, the invention of the light bulb had 1000 steps”.

• Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.

• Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first reporting job.

• Picasso created over 50,000 pieces. 100 are considered masterpieces.

• A newspaper editor fired Walt Disney for lacking “imagination”.

• 27 publishers rejected Dr Seuss’s first book.

You get my point. Failure is necessary and the more we come to terms with this, the more it will work in our favour!

Get out there and fall down, over and over until you are satisfied that you can withstand any fall!

Comment below on how failure has supported your success!

Check out a similar blog post: The Number One Mistake We Make When Setting a Goal.

For a guided and comprehensive approach to successful goal setting, check out: The Accountability Code

Dr. Mal


Mallory Ryan