It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure. – Bill Gates
In order to achieve success, you’ll likely need to fail first. Failure is the path that many of the most successful people have taken prior to their great achievements. Take Bill Gates, prior to founding Microsoft, Gates launched a company called Traf-O-Data. Traf-O-Data read traffic tapes and processed the information… it also failed. Paul Allen, one of Gates’ partners in the Traf-O-Data venture said of the experience, “it was seminal in preparing us to make Microsoft’s first product a couple of years later.“
Not only must you likely fail, you have to learn. Learning can be a huge challenge when you’re in the midst of a failure. You’ve invested your time, your effort, your money into something that didn’t work. It is hard to separate yourself from your failure. You are not a failure, you are experiencing a failure.
Let’s look at some other successful people who have experienced failure:
- Benjamin Franklin couldn’t afford to continue going to school, he dropped out of school at age 10. Franklin continued studying on his own, reading countless books and continuing his quest for knowledge.
- Henry Ford‘s early companies all failed. Ford failed massively 5 times prior to launching Ford Motors.
- Richard Branson has dyslexia and was a pretty bad student through grade school.
- Steve Jobs was ousted by his board of directors at Apple, the company that he co-founded (he eventually won his way back).
- Thomas Edison couldn’t create a lightbulb for over 1,000 attempts.
- Franklin Roosevelt had polio and was partially paralyzed prior to becoming one of the best presidents of all time.
- Simon Cowell‘s first record label failed. He reinvented himself and is now world famous in the entertainment industry.
- Stephen King‘s first novel, Carrie, was rejected by publishers 30 times.
- Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”
- Jerry Seinfeld froze on stage in his first attempt at stand-up.
- Soichiro Honda, founder of Honda Motors, applied for and was turned down for a job at Toyota. It was during this time of joblessness that he built the scooters upon which Honda Motors was built.
- Craving validation? So was Vincent Van Gogh. He is considered one of the most influential artists of all time, but in his lifetime, he sold just one of his paintings.
- Jay-Z couldn’t get signed to a record label despite numerous attempts. Did he give up? No, he started his own label and is now the music mogul we now know.
If you’re experiencing failure, you’re in great company. No, you’re not a failure, you’re just experiencing a failure that will help you learn the lessons that you need in order to reach your success.