Winning By Failing


Winning by Failing 

I recently posted a quote that said “Failure is not the opposite of success. It is part of the success.” The dialog and banter that this post created was magical to me. It allowed me to look at how others viewed failure and what it meant to them. It led me to write this piece to hopefully help others come to the realization that failure is truly a part of any endeavor. 

Actor Woody Allen said, If you’re not failing, you’re not trying. There was a time I thought this was absolute garbage advice. But then I realized that you could use failure to your advantage. Truly successful people make the most out of every failure. 

The unfortunate thing is most of us were raised being told to avoid failure at all costs. But now, we understand that failure is a beautiful way to grow. We learn and stretch ourselves with each failure. Realizing that most every invention had a process of failures before it came into being. Failing regularly gives the best chance of long-term success. 

So, what can you do to have greater levels of success? How about failing effectively:

  1. Learn to fail quickly. There’s a minute and thirty seconds left in the game, your team is up by five and only one time out. They have the ball, and its first and goal on your six. Most coaches will allow their defense to play hard and stop the opponent at all costs. After all, a field goal would not win the game, so you know they are going for the endzone. The odds of them scoring a touchdown and leaving virtually no time on the clock are high. So, what do you do? You tell the defense to let them score. Take the chance that your offense can run the ball down the field and put your kicker in a position to win the game. You will be the hero if you win. Now, what about life? If an idea isn’t going to work out, you might as well scrap it sooner rather than later. Avoid “taking time off the clock”. It doesn’t make sense to waste time and resources on an outcome that you could’ve reached earlier. 

  • At the same time, it’s important not to fail too quickly. Give an idea a fair chance to be successful. Some things take more time than others do.

  1. Make certain failing is the right thing to do. Be sure you have been fair with the time and resources you used. Look at what went wrong and decide if it was the execution or the idea that failed. 

  • Sometimes things will work better with a different approach.

  1. Be different with each failure. You might be familiar with the saying Dare to be different. I say Fail to be different. Basically, DO NOT REPEAT THE SAME MISTAKES. You will lose every value of failing if you fail to learn each time.

  2. Make a list of what you learned. With every failure we should be learning something new. What worked? What didn’t work? It is crucial for you to list what you learned. Then you can apply that information to the next attempt. It will lead you the next logical step. We can all agree that failing isn’t fun. You must make certain you’re getting the most out of it. Keep a record of your failures, discoveries, and new ideas.

  3. Focus on the positive side of failure. Remember what failure is, it’s an undesired result. That’s it. It has NOTHING to do with your intelligence, your worth, or your future. Never take it personally. It’s just one idea that didn’t work out. You and your results are not one in the same, keep it that way.

  • How do you define detachment? The great basketball coach, John Wooden, stated that his goal was to have no one be able to tell if his team had won or lost based on their attitude after a game.

  • Be proud that you were brave enough to fail and continue. Your worthiness should never be dependent on your results.

  1. Remember failure and fault are two separate things. When we were young, it didn’t take us long to understand that admitting to mistakes resulted in us taking the blame. Now if it failed because of a fault then quickly admit it and move on. It shouldn’t matter if you’re working on a self-improvement plan or the next driverless car, keep the blame to a minimum.

  2. The more you fail the closer to success. This one is simple. If the challenge is high, you can expect to fail many times before achieving success. But with each failure, providing you follow the steps above, you should be closer and closer to success.

  3. When failing is done right, new opportunities arise. Did you know that many inventions resulted from mistakes? For example, the “sticky stuff” on post-it notes resulted from an attempt to create a super-strong adhesive.

Stop worrying or feeling down about failing. Change your perspective and view each failure as a step in the right direction. Embrace failure and remember the words of Chicago Bears coach, Mike Ditka, “Failure isn’t fatal, unless you let it be”.

Until next time,




Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash