Are You Willing To Fail? It Is The Key To Success

Obvious to some and seemingly contradictory to others, success is found by those who are willing to fail.    Even as history has seen countless examples of failure being a common prelude to success, it is often overlooked as people scramble for the perfect success formula.  Unsurprising, as failure is not glorious like a perfectly executed and foolproof plan.  When you actually fail at something, it isn’t fun.

This isn’t as much inspiring as it is statistical – the more times you try, the more you will fail and succeed. To avoid failure is to avoid success.

As I told my good friend last night, “for the first time, I feel like I’m living my dreams.”  I’ve made 39 cents from adsense and I feel like I’m living my dreams?  That either makes me crazy or enlightened. Since I have started this website, I have begun to come up with ideas for others.  If I find the time to start them, I will be spreading out my risk of failure by having more than one chance of success.

The difference between being willing to fail and unwilling to fail is taking risks.

If you are one who is not willing to fail in a particular area of life, you will make sure that you have no opportunities to fail.  The key words in there being “no opportunities.”  Security will always have the drawback of closing doors.  Let’s see what avoiding failure looks like in three universally important areas.

Avoiding Failure

  • Relationships – Simple.  Don’t start any.
  • Career – Follow well-established, proven paths.  It may not be your first choice, but hey…it will pay the bills.
  • Dreams – You won’t try, because a realization that you have failed to accomplish your dreams is terrifying (it is to me).  It’s as if you’re finding out you’re not good enough and are doomed to live in mediocrity.  You’d rather just leave this one untouched for now, and tackle it someday when you’re sure you can succeed.

Notice a theme?  Inaction.  That doesn’t sound too good to me.  I suspect that you and I want something more out of life.  We would love to reach our dreams, as they are the strongest desires we have – in theory.  In reality, the desires for comfort and security can spoil our dreams without us knowing.

Success Could Be One Fail Away

When brainstorming of people to mention that failed before they rose to fame and fortune, I had a difficult time thinking of anyone who did not meet that criteria. Success without failure is rare.

Henry Ford’s first car company failed, Bill Gates’ first company fizzled out, Michael Jordan did not make his High School Basketball team, and Ben Franklin was completely broke before he rose to fame and fortune.

By the way, Ben Franklin’s auto-biography is fascinating – I think he is one of the most amazing men in history; it is FREE on Kindle platforms – PCs, smartphones, or the Kindle reader.

These men did not plan to fail, they strove to succeed.  Do not focus on whether to avoid failure or not.  Rather, focus on accepting failure as a part of trying.  If you have this mindset and can handle failure when it comes, the world is wide open to you and you can pursue your dreams.

You may try and fail 1,000 times, but when that light bulb finally comes on, there isn’t a greater feeling in the world (Right Mr. Edison?). This is why we try…and fail…and succeed.

About the Author

I'm lazy, but you can call me Stephen. When you're as lazy as I am, you need superior strategies to live well. My strategies are so effective that I'm productive every single day. As the world tries to figure out how to always stay motivated, I create strategies that don't require it.


Stephen, this is a very nice post. Although universally known, I think it is deep within ourselves that failure isn’t an option. It makes sense from an evolutionary point of view, if you think about it: 10,000 years ago, the difference between success and failure was the difference between life and death. Today however it seems like a much different place: innovation can only be obtained through failure or at least taking the chance to fail. There was this recently published interesting study that said why entrepreneurs may not make the best managing directors and it had to do with risk taking. Entrepreneurs go the non-linear way whereas the MDs are bothered about incremental changes. The mindset and skills are very different.


Hi Sid,

It does seem that our instinct is to avoid failure at all costs. It makes sense if failure means not eating for a week. But for most people today, the best way to fail is to never take risks. I’d make a better entrepreneur than manager myself because I like taking risks.

Lewis S. Lewis

Hey fellas,
Cool topic. We know going in that there are risks and still it sucks bad to fail at anything. We plan, plot, practice or whatever. We pay our money and take our chances on something that we believe in. For some it makes us feel alive, for others it makes sense or both. Either way we earn an opportunity to learn and potentially improve some facet of life.

This quote helps me keep moving forward over and over again, “The future belongs to those that believe in the beauty of their dreams.” -Eleanore Roosevelt

I suspect the final question is, “Are you willing to succeed?”


Ooh, that quote is very good. “The beauty of their dreams…” I like the way she worded that.

Good question at the end…I’ve wondered at times in my life if I was afraid to succeed.


Thank you for this nice post I will visit your page again.

Escape the Rat Race

An excellent post..

I go off a very relevant saying.. Good judgement comes from experience. And you get experience from bad judgement!


Was browsing through your classic hits and found this. Truly simple yet excellent post to encourage us to embrace risks!

Stephen Guise

Thanks Farhan. It’s an important lesson. I have to remind myself often. 🙂

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