Learning More From Failure Than Success

by Jay Deragon on 12/05/2013

Failure the secret to successI’ve been an entrepreneur all my life. I’ve failed as many times as I have succeeded so you could say it has been a zero sum game but really the failures have taught me more than any of my successes.  I honestly can say that I have gained more from failing because failing has a way of making you humble enough to seek the advice of others so you avoid failing at the same things all over again.

Humility has a way of letting you know that you may think you know enough but you can never know enough by yourself to avoid common mistakes that most entrepreneurs make when they start and grow a young business. Puffed up with enthusiasm for their idea coupled with the insecurity of possibly being wrong about their assumption entrepreneurs sometimes rush off into the milky way with actions, ideas and initiatives  aimed at proving they are right vs. their ideas, action or initiatives are grounded in what is right for the business.  I’ve been there and done that at a tremendous cost.

The Trap for Entrepreneurs and Seasoned Managers is…

The trap for entrepreneurs and business managers is one of pride. It is the oldest trap in the history of mankind; it is the pursuit of self-gratification over consequences regardless of the facts presented. It is the “I” know and control that inflates the senses to actually believe the illogical and irresponsible conclusions based on no data, no innovative approach, no input from the buyer and a serious lack of advice from those who ought to know whether your assumptions are anywhere near reality.

Pride will lead you to believe you are invincible, smarter than everyone else and it will also lead you to hide from the self-imposed shame of failure. Success will do the same because it has a tendency to puff up your pride and lead you to believe your success was your sole creation resulting from your brilliance, talent, wisdom and superman, or superwoman, powers granted to you by God. Whether an entrepreneur or manager the biggest trap of success is pride and the only real door to success is failure.

The reason failure is the real door to success is because you won’t appreciate success until you learn the lessons of failure. Failure has a way of keeping success honest, humble and realistic. Failure teaches you what and who you need. Success tends to try and convince you that you don’t need anyone and you know everything. Success can be incomplete without experiencing failure.

It doesn’t mean you have to be a failure to be a success but it does mean success can make you fail while failure tends to teach you how to succeed.

Everyone wants to know how to succeed but few want to learn how to fail successfully. Good leaders learn how to fail fast so they can consistently succeed.  Failing isn’t something you learn from someone rather it is something you have to experience yourself.

May you fail fast successfully.


Ari December 11, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Isn’t it ironic our schools teach the value of an A and flunk us with Fs — when we need those Fs to recognize the A? Good post, Jay.

Andy Ceniceros December 6, 2013 at 12:07 am

I completely agree. I have learned so much more from reflecting on my failures than any one of my successes. I can’t honestly remember all of my successes but I remember every detail of each of my failures. And am better for them!

Andy C.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: