6 Powerful Lessons I learned From Failure and 18 Quotes To Support Them

I have grown to love failure, although I’ll be the first to admit it kicked my a*s for many years. I remember the helpless and empty feeling of losing my first business and having to put both the business and myself through bankruptcy. It was absolutely horrible.

I remember losing the house, the office, the warehouse, the car, & putting the furniture on the front lawn for people to take it as I didn’t even have the money to put it in storage … that was even more horrible. Then I had to move back with my parents… horrible, horrible, horrible…. Then taking a job mopping floors and cleaning ashtrays at a bar…worse than three horribles.

The Shift

The shift in my thinking happened when I started diving into the books at Barnes & Noble before my shifts at the bar to read about every successful person and company I could think of to see what they had done that I had not. It wasn’t until then that I realized that things weren’t as horrible as I thought. I remember shaking my head as I came to the realization that I was not special.

In fact, failure almost became a prerequisite of sorts to success. In fact, a lot of their stories were far more horrific than mine. This, in turn, led me to take upon quite a different attitude towards failure from that point forward, and something I believe to this very day.  WE FAIL AT EVERYTHING…UNTIL WE SUCCEED. It is the same principle as learning how to walk, talk, read, write, or ride a bike for the first time. We fail until we succeed.

 Here are some great lessons I have learned about this word, FAILURE. Hopefully, it will give you a bit of a better perspective and the mindset to make failure work FOR you, as opposed to kicking you in the behind.

 1.  Failure Is The Fuel That Ignites Me

 I have failed quite a lot in my life both professionally and personally. What I have noticed, however is that when success has been involved, failure has always come first. Now that I know this, every time I fail, it acts as a passion generator as I know I am that much closer to succeeding. Failure makes my passion to succeed that much greater. The more and more I fail the more hungry it makes me to succeed.

 Here’s a quote-

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

 2.  I know What Isn’t Going To Work

 I look at failing in a very similar way to a football game, when my team is on the opponent’s 1-yard line. We run to the right on first down… my team gets stopped. I think to myself, “OK, maybe that side of the defensive line is too strong.” So we run left on second down… still, to no avail. I run down the middle on third… still, nothing. There are several things going on in my head at that point, the most important of which is that I know what isn’t going to work… So, on fourth down, we fake the run and throw it over the top and score.

 Here are two fairly significant guys that would agree with this philosophy:

 “I didn’t fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.”― Benjamin Franklin

 “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ― Thomas A. Edison

 3.  Failing shows I am In The Game

 I have no chance of success if I don’t try. Conversely, I have no chance at failure either. Thus, the only way I have any chance at success is through failure. Every company I have started and every investment I have secured is because I put myself in the game and gave myself a chance. I dedicated an entire post on this very subject. If you want to read it, click here .

 Here are a few more quotes to back this one up.

 “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” ― Robert F. Kennedy

 “If you don’t try at anything, you can’t fail… it takes back bone to lead the life you want” ― Richard Yates, Revolutionary Road

 4.  You Only Fail If You Quit.

 That is the difference between failing and failure. Failing, and failing forward is how we succeed. Failure on the other hand, is more finite, as it admits defeat. Big difference. I am pleased to know that I will fail many times more this week, let alone in this lifetime. The key is to keep failing our way forward until we succeed.

 Here are five more quotes I love that back this up.

“Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald

“If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.” ― H.G. Wells

“Giving up is the only sure way to fail.” ― Gena Showalter

“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” ― Denis Waitley

“Success is determined not by whether or not you face obstacles, but by your reaction to them. And if you look at these obstacles as a containing fence, they become your excuse for failure. If you look at them as a hurdle, each one strengthens you for the next.” ― Ben Carson, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story

 5.  I Only Fail If I Don’t Learn From My Mistakes

 I mentioned in a previous post on tips to raise capital that I always walk out of a meeting a winner. Whether or not the person on the other side of the table thinks I walk away a winner is irrelevant. If I go into a meeting to pursue an investment, even if that person refuses the investment, the value of his or her “why not” gives me a strategy to fine tune for my next meeting.

It has also given me a chance to eliminate something from my pitch that didn’t work (as I mentioned in point #2). Remember, there are lessons in everything we do, whether it is from success or failure. You just need to look hard enough.

 Here are two more quotes two notable Henry’s & a Zig:

“If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.” ― Henry David Thoreau

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” ― Henry Ford

“Make failure your teacher, not your undertaker.” ― Zig Ziglar

 6.  Failure Is The Breeding Ground For Success

 I have heard many savvy successful businesspeople in my day tell me that if I haven’t experienced a ton of rejection and failure yet, the odds are that I have not reached anywhere close to my level of potential. The only way I can test my limits as to how many doors I can get through is to knock on as many closed doors as possible. That is the sign of a great entrepreneur.

 Here are six final quotes to back this up:

“We are all failures- at least the best of us are.” ― J.M. Barrie

“Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.” ― Robert Kiyosaki, Rich Dad, Poor Dad

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” ― Samuel Beckett

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” ― C.S. Lewis

“Negative results are just what I want. They’re just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best until I find the ones that don’t.” ― Thomas A. Edison

“The person who failed often knows how to avoid future failures. The person who knows only success can be more oblivious to all the pitfalls.” ― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

If you don’t know how to control failure, then failure most likely will control you.  It is 100% your choice.  That quote is all me.

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Have a great day & HUSTLE HARD!



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5 thoughts on “6 Powerful Lessons I learned From Failure and 18 Quotes To Support Them

  1. MJ:

    Great thoughts here. I resonate with them because I have had my share of failure in various arenas of life but most notably in business. And yes, the failures have defined who I am, because the coming out of a failure to succeed is an evidence of character like no other.

    For one who has never allowed himself to fail, there is no test of strength or endurance or will to overcome. For the one who gets up seven times after being knocked flat seven times…that person will achieve!

    Yes failure is the breeding ground for success because it is going to happen, regardless. It’s how the person reacts to the inevitable that matters.

    “If you are afraid to fail…you already have.”

    Thanks for the wise words,


    1. Thanks Rhett. Yes, I believe failure is how we learn. I love the quote you put in there at the end, “If you are afraid to fail…you already have.” Love it. Have a great day my man. Best- MJ

  2. Hi MJ,

    I happened to click on this blog post to read first, since we met on Twitter due to a guest blog post I just wrote: Entrepreneurs-3 Step Survival Guide for Failure. The 6 lessons you learned from failure most certainly fall squarely in the 3 ways to survive it!

    It appears we both think similarly on this topic, as do most successful entrepreneurs. I began my professional career in the 1980’s teaching children with severe mental and physical challenges. In that world in particular, just waking up without a seizure or smiling at Mom and Dad and nodding “hello” in the morning is huge success. I remember working with a child for weeks just to be able to stack one wooden block on top of another. 50 times the blocks would fall. Failure??? No Way!! We would laugh. We’d sing to the blocks. We’d try again. On the 51st attempt we’d have a small tower. Block number 3 made it taller and happened shortly after. Within a few months we were up to 10 or 12.

    Yes, an extreme situation yet for entrepreneurs the metaphor is apt. In my world failure doesn’t exist. Instead, there are a series of unsuccessful attempts. Some are extremely unsuccessful to be almost comical in retrospect. Many are the day in day out growth and creation process of buiding something unique and worthwhile.

    I’m glad we met and I discovered your blog MJ.

    Thank You,

    1. Thanks Deborah. Very touching. My mother taught children with severe autism and was so happy when the ‘slightest’ improvement would take place. To most it would be deemed a slight improvement however given the situation these are enormous feats. 50 times the blocks fall in hopes that 51 they don’t! You never fail until you give up. Thanks again and be in touch. Have a great night :-)

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