Insights: Failure is Fantastic

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Albert-Einstein-Quotes-mistakeFailure is a wonderful word, yet we look at it negatively. Failure is part of life. It is also a necessary part of being successful. We learn so much more from our failure—failure truly helps us to succeed.

Winston Churchill stated it well when he said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

When people do not fail, it tells me that they play life too safe. They are not taking enough chances; they are not exploring their abilities, their talents, their edges.

Think about telling a child they have to stay behind the line, and they stand right on the line. This is knowing the edges of your life. When I look back on my life, some of my favorite and proud memories are when I pushed those edges.

My favorite question to ask myself when I fail at something is, “what is this inviting me to learn?”

There is always something to learn. Not only do we need to learn, but also pick up the pieces, breathe and figure out what to do next.

There are wonderful stories of people you may have heard of that have persevered. Henry Ford had many failures that left him broke before he succeeded and formed the Ford Motor Company.

Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard and his first business, called Traf-O-Data, failed before he became the successful founder of Microsoft.

Can you believe that Walt Disney was fired from his newspaper job due to his lack of imagination and lack of good ideas, and then preceded to go through bankruptcy after starting his own company?

One of my favorites is Albert Einstein, who did not read till he was seven and was considered mentally handicapped. He was turned down getting into Zurich Polytechnic and ended up winning a Nobel Prize for changing the view of modern physics.

Thomas Edison was told by teachers he was “too stupid to learn anything,” was fired from his first two jobs, and yet he ended up inventing the light bulb.

The Wright Brothers struggled with depression and illness in their family, then many failures of their designs of flight, yet they were able to create a plane that would become airborne.

Oprah Winfrey came from an abusive childhood and was fired from her job as a television reporter, but went on to became one of the richest and most successful women in the world.

Fred Astaire was told he “can’t act, can’t sing, can dance a little.”

Actor Sidney Poitier was told ‘Why don’t you stop wasting people’s time and go out and become a dishwasher or something?’

USC turned down Steven Spielberg three times for their film school.

Michael Jordon was cut from his high school basketball team.

The list goes on, but you get the point: failure is the first stop towards success.

Sharing a personal story, I left school at 16 because a teacher told me I would never make it into college. After a few years I realized I wanted to get an education. That teacher would be shocked to hear I have my doctorate.

There is a Chinese proverb that says “Fall down six times, get up seven.” That is what makes us successful, when we are able to pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off and regroup.

That does not mean we miss the stages of grief, just do not get stuck there. Go through the shock, sadness, and anger, and then find a new way of being in the world.

Remember if all the people did not pick themselves up, maybe we would not have Mickey Mouse, automobiles as we know them, computers that became available to most households, airplanes, or even light bulbs.

Make sure you count in the world by not giving up and embracing failure—it really does helps us to succeed.

Contact Dr. Shelly Zavala at [email protected] or

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