What does Failure have to do with Success?

Our 11-year-old recently asked us, “What would you do if you failed?”  He made it a multiple-choice question, would you:

A. Give up  

B. Try again

C. Do nothing

I thought, good question, and asked what he would do.  We were pleased he answered, he’d try again.  

His question though, got me thinking, how kids can get frustrated as they try to perfect something, because there is a lot of trial and error in growing up, whether it’s riding a bike or writing a name, but they just keep working until they get it right.  As adults, we sometimes forget trial and error can have a positive outcome too.  Instead of dwelling on the negative and giving up, failure as an adult should prompt us to work harder, practice more or seek new ways of doing things.

Unfortunately, what happens all too often, we see people paralyzed by the fear of failure, they don’t try anything, they aren’t sure will be successful.  Consider Thomas Edison, if he had quit after the 10th or even the 100th attempt at inventing the light bulb, we may still be sitting in the dark.  Then there’s Michael Jordan, cut from his basketball team in high school, if he had allowed that setback to stand in his way, his career path would have significantly changed?  Jordan puts it into simple perspective, saying, “I have failed over and over again in my life, but that is why I succeeded.”

In Leadership, at all levels, we must remember why we succeed and then remind ourselves and our team, it’s okay to fail.  It’s about empowering one another to stand on our own, making decisions that allow for stumbles, then recognizing what we’ve gained in the process.  Our gains can be a boost in self-confidence or better self-awareness, each time we fail, we certainly learn something from the experience or maybe we simply gain the courage to try again.  

As you work through your day today, remember, failure isn’t always a bad thing.  We learn from our failures, the only time we don’t learn, is when we do nothing to improve.  


If you’re a new or emerging leader living in the Sioux Falls Area, and want to further develop your skills, check out Lead to Inspire’s Foundation of Leadership training course.  It’s listed under products and services on our website at www.leadtoinspire.net