A Confession: We Need to Hear More Failure Stories Than Success Tales
Because all success stories begin with a failure.
Thomas Edison, one of the greatest innovators, once said:
“I have not failed 10,000 times — I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.”
It was his justification and response to the numerous unsuccessful attempts to create a light bulb.
The intense drive for perfection took Apple 3 years to develop the original Macintosh computer because Steve Jobs abandoned nearly-finished projects that didn’t meet his design standards.
Neither Steve Jobs nor Thomas Edison knew they would shape human history with their triumphs.
People admire, praise, and sometimes try to replicate their success. However, we rarely think about what challenges they faced on the thorny road to success.
As much as our history is written by the winners, so is our perception is shaped by success stories.
Many people believe winner stories are the proven recipe for a better life and a bright future. However, just a few realize how shallow they are and how much untold is left in the shade.
Why we are obsessed with success stories.
Since childhood, we are taught that mistakes are signs of weakness and incompetency.
Society wants to see more role models, more happiness, and beauty. We all have enough challenges in our lives. We want to get inspired and motivated rather than hear about someone else’s failures.
Failure stories are not as sexy as glory tales. Hence, people would rather keep silent than publicly share their personal failures.
Defeats seed fear in our minds, which often prevents people from stepping out of the comfort zone.
Success stories can also make people famous.
From all corners of the digital world, so-called “experts” chat about their success and strive to teach others how to replicate it.
We passionately listen to the role models, buy their coaching courses, and follow their advice. Why? Cause we don’t want to bring more negativity into our lives and listen to miserable talks! We want to know proven and actionable tips for creating our own success stories. However, this tendency has an invisible side effect!
Success stories create more opinion leaders that shape our perception and make us believe in quick wins. Hooked by promises, we want to replicate the success, but it never happens.
Behind every victory are numerous efforts, a setback, a drastic direction change, a reflection, desperation, but an unshakable belief in success.
Success is like an ocean surface. Failure is like an ocean depth hidden from the human eye.
You might not realize it yet. You might still want to hear more success tales, but sooner or later, you’ll admit failures are the greatest teachers in life.
Success stories dictate what you have to do to become wealthy and happy. However, they rarely share what you shouldn’t do because it does not work, it’s not worth it, there is a smarter way or a better opportunity.
As Samuel Smiles once well-said:
“We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success. We often discover what will do, by finding out what will not do; and probably those who never made a mistake never made a discovery.”
Nobody’s perfect, and we all make mistakes. Life is like a sinusoid line; success is always followed up by failure. It is natural, and we should not be ashamed of it.
Talking publicly about failures helps people like you and me admit we are not alone in our struggles! Someone else has already gone through the same shame and fame, and we, too, can do it.
Let me begin with my failures. I hope for your compassion and understanding, my dear reader.
It happened to me at my workplace, which I perceived as something bigger than a personal failure. Once, I’ve accidentally spent the whole monthly advertising budget in a single day! I was supposed to run ads for thirty days, but I failed my company and misspent the budget! This incident made me feel incompetent, and negative inner judgment ruined my self-confidence.
I wondered why none of the online checklists or how-to guides covered this topic, and no one has publicly spoken about it. I perceived this failure as if it was the end of the world, even though it is an inevitable part of the learning process.
I did not keep silent about my failure at the end! I publicly shared it in a case study, which now helps struggling marketers avoid the same mistakes.
I learned a vital lesson from this failure story: you’ll never know which challenges await you in the future until you face them yourself!
People would not imagine pink castles and gold mountains if they knew the truth behind each success story. The truth is, most people never become rich or famous cause success is never granted to anyone!
We all know and admire empires built by Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg. When we hear their stories, we take them for granted, as if success was inevitable.
In fact, 90% of all startups fail, according to research studies. Those companies were never meant to exist, but priceless experiences acquired along the way help founders build companies that last for centuries.
I personally admit every failure story makes you a little better entrepreneur! When you hear about someone else's failures, you learn their mistakes and strive not to repeat them. Someone’s negative experience makes you smarter and improves your business intelligence.
The scope of possible failures should not prevent you from trying, though. It simply means you have to be realistic and be aware of what might arise on the road to success.
As Jeff Haden, a keynote speaker, ghostwriter, and LinkedIn Influencer, once well-said:
“Your past makes you who you are, but it doesn’t define you. Nor is it something to beat yourself up over. “
With this story, I want to encourage you, my dear reader, not to be ashamed of your failures, not to bury them down, but share them if you dare.
Other people will respect the fact you own mistakes. Everyone does cause no one is perfect. What’s more — they might even connect with your stories!
Despite anything, people will definitely appreciate you sharing your setbacks to help them avoid the same pitfalls.
In every success story, focus on what you don’t see! What might have happened but did not make it for some reason. There is as much, if not more, to be learned from failure.
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