10 Good Reasons Why Failure is Good For You

  1. It makes you appreciate success when it does happen.
  2. It develops endurance and stamina.
  3. It provides you with a learning experience.
  4. It keeps you humble.
  5. It can, sometimes, be a blessing in disguise.
  6. It allows you to empathise with, and help others in similar situations.
  7. It protects you if you’re not ready to handle success.
  8. It shows you who your real friends are!
  9. It builds character and motivates you to try again.
  10. It means you’re more likely to sustain success when it does arrive.

R. Ian Seymour, excerpt from Discover Your True Potential

Successful people recognise that taking two steps forward and one step backwards still equates to them taking a step forwards. That’s why successful people don’t quit when they encounter setbacks – instead, they persevere.

Become bitter or better, the choice is yours.

“The rear view mirror in your car is meant for you to glance at, not stare in to. Similarly with life: It’s okay to look backwards every now and again, but looking continuously backwards is not the way forwards.”

R. Ian Seymour

“What is defeat? Nothing but education; nothing but the first step to something better.”

Wendell Phillips (1811-1884), slave trade abolitionist

Failure isn’t failure unless you fail to learn from it.

The Scottish historian and essayist, Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), became a wealthy and very successful writer after the publication of his three volumes on The French Revolution. However, Carlyle was another individual who experienced more than a little failure.

It was through his friend in London, John Stuart Mill (the famous philosopher and economist), that Carlyle first became interested in the French Revolution. In time that interest led Carlyle to start writing, what would eventually become a masterpiece of modern day literature. However, it wasn’t all plain sailing! After five months of continuous writing, Carlyle finished the first volume, which he then passed over to his friend, John Mill, so that he could give it his professional opinion. Unfortunately, whilst the manuscript was in Mill’s care, a maid lighting a fire accidentally burnt it! The whole thing, all of five months’ work, up in smoke! Mill was devastated and horrified at the loss as, indeed, anyone would be, but Carlyle never uttered a single word of condemnation. Of course, he was upset – who wouldn’t be? But instead of dwelling on the defeat, the non-success, Carlyle sat down and started out again from scratch!

R. Ian Seymour

R. Ian Seymour, excerpt from Discover Your True Potential

A little brown cork fell in the path of a whale
Who lashed it down with his angry tail.
But in spite of its blows it quickly arose,
And floated serenely before his nose.
Said the cork to the whale:
“You may flap and splutter and frown,
But you never, never, can keep me down;
For I’m made of the stuff
That is buoyant enough
To float instead of to drown”. (Anon)

The main difference between a successful person and a failure is simply this: the successful person just kept on trying. Sir Edmund Hillary is living proof of this. You may remember that he and his Nepalese guide were the very first men to, literally, stand on top of the world.

It was 11.30 in the morning, on May 29th 1953, when Edmund Hillary and the Nepalese Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay eventually placed the British flag on top of Mount Everest, which at 29,028 feet (8848 metres) above sea level, is the highest point on earth.

Hillary had been on Mount Everest in 1951 and again in 1952, both times in a serious attempt to reach the summit. Unfortunately, both attempts were unsuccessful but his exploits did bring him to the attention of the Royal Geographic Society and the Alpine Club of Great Britain. After they had agreed to sponsor him for a third attempt in 1953, Hillary made an emotional address to their members. It’s reported that he was welcomed on to the stage by a thunderous applause as the audience recognised his previous efforts. Hillary was overcome; he moved away from the microphone and turned towards a picture of Everest. Then he made a defiant fist and as he pointed to the mountain he said in a loud voice, “You beat me once, you beat me twice, but, Mount Everest, you will not beat me again, because you have grown all you are going to do, but I am still growing!” – Edmund Hillary succeeded on that third attempt. He was a failure who kept on trying.

R. Ian Seymour

R. Ian Seymour, excerpt from Discover Your True Potential

Let others cheer the winning man,
There’s another I hold worthwhile;
’Tis he who does the best he can,
Then loses with a smile.
Beaten he is, but not to stay
Down with the rank and file;
For the man will win some other day,
Who loses with a smile. (Anon)

“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”

Henry Ford (1863-1947), founder of the Ford Motor Company

J.K. Rowling, author the Harry Potter novels, once said, “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.” She went on to say, “Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it. So I think it is fair to say that by any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew… I was set free because my greatest fear had been realised and I was still alive, and I still had my daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

http://news.harvard,edu/gazette/story/2008/06/text-of-j-k-rowling-speech and cited by Ken Costa in Know Your Why, 2016, Nashville Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishing, p.109

Fact: You simply cannot experience true love, happiness, wealth or success until you have first experienced rejection, unhappiness, poverty and failure. Otherwise, how would you know the difference?

“Failing doesn’t mean I’m a failure; it just means I have not yet succeeded. It doesn’t mean I’ve accomplished nothing; it just means I’ve learned something. It doesn’t mean I’ve been a fool; it just means I’ve had the courage to take a risk. It doesn’t mean I’m inferior; it just means I’m not perfect. It doesn’t mean I’ve wasted my time; it just means I have a reason to start again. It doesn’t mean I should give up; it just means I have to try harder. It doesn’t mean I’ll never make it; it just means I need more patience. It doesn’t mean God has abandoned me; it just means He has a better idea!”

John Maxwell, leadership trainer and writer

“Turn failure into fertiliser.”

Denis Waitley, writer and motivational speaker

Not so long ago, a mule, belonging to a local farmer, fell into an old disused well. The mule brayed incessantly and stomped about in the confined space but it was no good; it was stuck. The distraught animal was just too far down and the farmer, try as he might, couldn’t pull him out. It was hopeless! Finally, the saddened farmer resigned to put the mule out of its misery. He decided that the best thing for it would be to fill the well with earth and bury the hapless animal. The old man fetched his truck and swallowed hard as tipped the first load of earth into the well. The mule panicked and instead of letting itself be buried, it kicked and stomped even more. In fact, the mule stomped so much that he trampled the earth down under its hooves and ended up climbing on top of it. The same thing happened with the second and the third load. Each time the mule would stomp and kick and trample the earth down, and each time the mule would climb higher and higher up the well shaft. Finally, the mule made it to the top and jumped free, having learnt a very valuable lesson.

And the moral of this little tale is this: Don’t allow your non-success to bury you alive; don’t allow it to become a permanent failure! Remember, successful people are just failures that kept on trying… so, keep on keeping on!

R. Ian Seymour

R. Ian Seymour, excerpt from Discover Your True Potential

“All paths to achievement lead through the land of failure.”

John Maxwell

“It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up that counts.”

Vincent T. Lombardi (1913-1970), American professional football coach.

“Failure can paralyse us to impotence or propel us to performance.”

Phil Wall, charity worker and motivational speaker

“Ninety percent of all those who fail are not actually defeated. They simply quit.”

Paul J. Meyer

A girl went off to college and for a long time she didn’t contact her parents. Feeling guilty, she wrote them a letter. This was the letter that she wrote:

Dear Mum and Dad,

Since I left for college, I have been remiss in writing and I’m sorry for my thoughtlessness in not having written before. I’ll bring you up to date, but before I do, please sit down. Are you sitting down? It’s very important that you sit down before you read on.

I’m getting along pretty well now following the skull fracture and concussion that I got when I jumped out of my dormitory window when it caught fire shortly after my arrival. It has healed pretty well now. I only get those sick headaches a couple of times a day. Fortunately, the attendant at the petrol station witnessed the fire in my dorm and saw me jump. He ran over, took me to hospital and continued to visit me there. When I got out of the hospital, I had nowhere to live because of the burnt-out conditions of my room, so he was kind enough to invite me to share his basement bedroom flat with him. It’s sort of small but very cute. He’s a very fine boy and we have fallen deeply in love and are planning to get married. We haven’t set the exact date yet, but it will be before my pregnancy begins to show.

Yes, Mum and Dad, I’m pregnant! I know how much you will look forward to being grandparents and I know that you will welcome the baby and give it the same tender care and devotion that you gave me when I was a child. The reason for the delay in our marriage is that my boyfriend has an infection, which I carelessly caught from him. I know, however, that you will welcome him into our family with open arms. He is kind and, although not well educated, he is ambitious. Although he is of a different race and religion than ours, I know that your often-expressed tolerance will not permit you to be bothered by that.

In conclusion, and now that I have brought you up to date, I want to tell you there was no dormitory fire. I did not have concussion or a skull fracture. I was not in the hospital. I am not pregnant. I do not have an infection and there is no boyfriend in my life. However, I have failed my exams and I wanted you to see these results in their proper perspective!


There is no defeat in life, save from within: If you are not beaten there, then you are bound to win.

“I honestly think it is better to be a failure at something you love than to be a success at something you hate.”

George Burns

Failure has been correctly identified as the path of least persistence.

No One Is Beat ’til He Quits

No one is beat ’til he quits,
No one is through ’til he stops,
No matter how failure hits,
No matter how often he drops.
A fellow’s not down ’til he lies
In the dust and refuses to rise.
Fate can slam him and bang him around,
And batter his frame ’til he’s sore,
But it never can say that he’s downed,
While he bobs up serenely for more.
A fellow’s not dead ’til he dies,
Nor beat ’til he no longer tries.

by Edgar A. Guest

It is better to have tried to succeed and failed than to have tried nothing and succeeded.

You win some you lose some or you win some you learn some.

“When life kicks you; let it kick you forward.”

Eli Stanley Jones (1884-1973), missionary and writer

No doubt you will have heard the name, ‘Birdseye’, synonymous with the frozen food industry. Clarence E. Birdseye (1886-1956) was a failure, who simply kept on trying until he succeeded.

In 1924 he lost all that he had on his failed frozen food enterprise, including money borrowed against a life-insurance policy! But ‘Captain Birdseye’, as the UK television adverts portray him, didn’t give up. Instead, with just $7.00 in cash and the loan of some space in a friend’s ice factory, he started out again and began experimenting in methods for freezing and preserving foods for later use.

Only five years later, he sold his frozen food company for $22 million Dollars (US), so that he could concentrate more time to experimenting and coming up with new inventions. He went on to register nearly 300 patents in all. Clarence Birdseye was a man of character, a man who understood that “failure is an event and not a person”.

R. Ian Seymour

R. Ian Seymour, excerpt from Discover Your True Potential

“Failure is delay, but not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end street.”

William Arthur Ward

Failure is success in disguise.

“Failure is success if we learn from it.”

Malcolm Forbes (1919-1990), magazine publisher

“When I was young I observed that nine out of every ten things I did were failures. So I did ten times more work.”

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), dramatist and critic

“Let failure become your teacher and not your undertaker.”

Zig Ziglar, motivational speaker and writer