Skip links



I have attempted a lot of things in my life. Fortunately a majority of those attempts achieved some success. But to be honest, some things just did not work out. When you are in the middle of one of those unsuccessful projects, exhausted and becoming increasingly aware that the light at the end of the tunnel is a train, it’s easy to let that particular “failure” color your entire world.

To be successful you have to try enough things that almost always mean some will be unsuccessful. Being wrong is not permanent! You have to be willing to try things that might not produce great results in order to achieve great success. Very few trips to success are failure free.

Abraham Lincoln opened a general store that failed to produce a profit and was forced to close. He was a successful lawyer. He was elected to one term in congress in the 1850’s, but lost 12 elections before he was elected president. Yet it is impossible to think of him as a failure.

Henry Ford started two car companies that failed before he succeeded with the Ford Motor Company. Thomas Edison, holder of 1093 U. S. Patents, made over 9,000 unsuccessful attempts before he produced the first light bulb. Walt Disney was fired from an art production company. His boss said, “Mr. Disney lacks ideas.”

To attach “failure” to these great men is obviously wrong. Yet there were projects that they attempted that failed. It is easy for any of us in the middle of an unsuccessful project to let that moment affect our self-concepts and listen to the accusing inner voices.

The only way to never have failures is to never attempt anything new. My successes have almost involved some wrecks along the way. If you require assurance of success before commitment to a project you will probably never start anything new. If you are in the middle of a “failure” today, you may be learning enough to be successful the next time. Let’s try again!
By Paul Cowell