embracing failure – the key to success

Today, I want to write about a topic that many of us tend to shy away from: failure. Yep, you heard me right! We’re diving headfirst into the world of setbacks, mishaps, and moments when things don’t quite go as planned. I could write an entire book about it, and yet those were the moments I learned the most. To people striving for success, failure often seems to be an obstacle, a setback to be avoided at all costs.

How would it affect your decisions if failure were not the antithesis of success but rather an essential ingredient for achieving it? What if embracing failure were the secret sauce to unlocking your full potential and realizing your dreams?

why failure is essential for success:

Let’s start by debunking the idea that failure is something to be feared, avoided, and buried deep beneath the surface. In reality, failure is not the end of the road; it’s a chance to reroute and recalibrate our path forward. It’s not facing a dead-end road that matters, but how you react to it.

It’s not a question of if you will fail at some point in your life; it’s only a question of when. So, you better get used to it and find a strategy to deal with it before you are forced to. The only way to avoid failure is to never step foot on uncharted territory. Once you try something new and widen your horizon, you will encounter challenges you haven’t dealt with before. There will be setbacks eventually, but whether it becomes an ultimate failure to you, whatever that means in particular, will not be defined by the setback but only by how you respond to it.

One of the most successful mountaineers of all time, Reinhold Messner, failed on more Himalayan expeditions than he succeeded. You have to picture those fully funded, fully crewed expeditions packed with dreams, hopes, and expectations, and the majority failed. But Reinhold says that in these failed expeditions, he learned the lessons that made the successful ones a success. They could not have done it without the learnings of the failure. Today, he is remembered for the minority of his missions, the ones that succeeded, but his journey consisted mainly of these setbacks. Until today, he says he became so good at failing that he succeeded, and he wishes to keep the freedom to fail often and hard in the future as well.

I believe this is an important lesson to internalize because, contrary to popular belief, failure is not a sign of incompetence or inadequacy. Instead, it is a natural part of the learning process and a stepping stone to success. When we fail, it simply means that what we tried did not work out. That’s how every baby evolves—try and error, try and error, until it works. We are forced to reassess our approach, identify areas for improvement, and develop new strategies for moving forward. In essence, failure provides us with invaluable feedback that propels us towards our goals with greater clarity and resilience.

learning from failure:

Failure is the opportunity it presents for learning and growth. And while we are children, we are encouraged to try, try, try until it works. Nobody expects a child to stand up and walk on the first try. Failure is the essence of learning. You test something in multiple different ways until you figure out a way it works. During the process, you automate the behavior and won’t even have to think about it in the future. When we fail, we are given the chance to reflect on our experiences, uncover valuable insights, and acquire new skills. In fact, some of the greatest innovations and breakthroughs in history have been born out of failure.

overcoming the fear of failure:

Somehow on our journey to adolescence, though, we develop the expectation that now that we are grown up, we should have figured it out and should not fail anymore. Many people are even paralyzed by the fear of failure and avoid taking risks altogether. The only way that you can achieve that is by literally having seen it all, which means having failed in every way possible before.

I think when you get accustomed to lifelong learning, you can learn to accept lifelong failure. By embracing failure as a natural and inevitable part of the process, we can cultivate a growth mindset that empowers us to take bold action and pursue our dreams with confidence.

Many people strive for success. They accept failure as a part of reaching success, but they view success as a fixed point that they want to reach—meaning once you have success, you don’t fail anymore. But guess what? Life continues. Is success a point that you want to reach, or is it a way of living, a way of behaving, an ongoing process? That way, success could also be the way to handle failure.

Success is not a place to go to but a place to come from. Success is a way of living.

practical strategies for embracing failure:

Let’s talk strategy. How can we overcome the fear of failure and become successful in dealing with it?

Shift your perspective: Success is the way you deal with, react to, and learn from failure. Failure is an inevitable part of success. It is a valuable learning experience—a chance to gather feedback, gain insights, and course-correct as needed.

Curiosity: Adopt a mindset of curiosity and exploration. Be excited to try new things and take calculated risks because there you can and will fail, and therefore learn something new.

Embrace the discomfort: Let’s face it—failure isn’t exactly a walk in the park. Personally, I don’t like it. It can be messy, uncomfortable, and downright painful at times. But rather than running from discomfort, lean into it. Know that you will learn, grow, and walk out of it stronger than you went in. Embrace the messy middle and trust that growth lies on the other side.

Cultivate resilience: Resilience is like a muscle—the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. So, flex those resilience muscles by bouncing back from setbacks with grace, grit, and determination. Remember, it’s not about how many times you fall; it’s about how many times you get back up.

Celebrate progress, not perfection: In a world obsessed with perfection, it’s easy to lose sight of the progress we’ve made along the way. So, take a moment to celebrate your victories—no matter how small—and acknowledge the growth and resilience you’ve cultivated along the way.

Fail Early: It is extremely important for companies to cultivate a culture that embraces failure at an early stage. Ironically, this approach often leads to fewer mistakes and failures down the line. Those who embrace failure tend to make fewer mistakes in the end.

Seek support: Last but certainly not least, don’t be afraid to lean on your support network when the going gets tough. That’s why coaching is so effective, and no matter how successful you are, an outside perspective can help you to shift yours. Whether it’s friends, family, or a trusted mentor, surround yourself with people who believe in you, uplift you, and remind you of your inherent worth and potential.

Let me know if there is something that you want to discuss. We can schedule a free session and find out where that takes you.


In conclusion, I want to leave you with one final thought: failure is not the enemy; it’s your greatest ally on the journey to success. So, the next time you find yourself facing a setback or stumbling block, remember this: you are not defined by your failures; you are defined by how you respond to them. Embrace failure, learn from it, and watch as it propels you toward a future filled with success, growth, and limitless possibilities. You’ve got this!

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