Failure is the mother of success

An ancient Chinese proverb says, “Failure is the mother of success.” When I was starting out in business, I reminded myself of these words, over and over again.

Looking back, while I understood the meaning of the proverb, I don’t think I fully embraced the importance of the concept until years later. I had to experience failure a few times, to feel the disappointment and frustration, before I could appreciate the purpose of failure.

Thomas Edison tried 10,000 times to find a way to invent the light bulb. He explained, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”Failure breeds success.

Baseball great Babe Ruth scored 714 home runs during his career, but he also held the record for most strikeouts: 1,330. Did that faze him? “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.”

“Colonel” Harland David Sanders believed in his recipe for fried chicken, but was rejected 1,009 times before a restaurant accepted it.

Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel’s first manuscript was rejected by 27 publishers. The award-winning children’s book author later said, “Whenever things go a bit sour in a job I’m doing, I always tell myself, ‘You can do better than this’.”

The Beatles were evaluated by a record company that reported, “we don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” Walt Disney was fired from a job as a newspaper cartoonist because the editor said he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” The assessment of Fred Astaire’s first screen test stated, “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Slightly bald. Can dance a little.”

Slowly, in the School of Life, I’ve learned that obstacles rise up before you, setbacks occur when you least expect them, and failure is a given. I’ve also learned that I will not die from failures. Losing does not make me a loser, unless I believe myself to be one.

Failure is feedback. Take it. Learn from it. Move on. Success tastes much sweeter, but failure is food for thought.

Myers Barnes is America’s favorite new home sales trainer, author, speaker and consultant.  For more information, please visit

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