failure is necessary for success

Why Failure is Required for Success

It seems a counterintuitive thing to say that failure is required for success. Sure, we could say that it is possible to succeed in spite of failure and that doesn’t seem like such a profound thing. Of course, one can succeed despite having failed before.

But now, I am claiming that to succeed, you need to have failed before, and this may seem like a hard pill to swallow.

Allow me to explain myself, then.

Let us take a goalkeeper, for example. How does a goalkeeper become the best? “Duh!”, you say, “by not conceding any goals, or as few goals as possible, obviously”.

But that is how we consider him the best, not how he actually becomes the best. To become the best, he needs to have allowed goals in, and then use each goal as a learning opportunity to prevent the next one. It is by learning from every goal conceded that he can discover how goals work and become a master keeper of goals.

Had Steve Jobs never been fired from his own company in the 1980s, he may never have founded Pixar Animation Studios. And maybe Apple would not have become as successful as it became after he came back. No doubt he learned some very important lessons from that experience.

Let me tell my own story as another example.

In my primary school days, I was so good that I always came first in every exam, every term, every class. I only came second once throughout my primary school days, and yet I never really read at home.

I was just so brilliant that I understood and remembered whatever I was taught in class the first time around. So whenever exams came around, I aced them effortlessly.

Then I went to high school and, for the first time in my life, I knew what failure is. 

When the first exam came, I naturally expected it to go the same way it always did. I didn’t read as always.

But when the results came, I came 23rd in my class. It was a very rude wake-up call for me, and for the first time in my life, I cried over my report card. I’d seen people cry when they got their results before, but the whole concept felt alien to me. Until that day.

For the next term exam, I read as I had never read in my life. That term, I came 7th in class. It was the same class, the same students we were doing exams together, so this improvement had to have been because I worked hard. We were getting there, though not quite there yet.

The third term, I came second.

What lessons did I learn from that experience? My failure from the first term woke me up to the fact that to pass my exams as a student, I needed to really read my book, so I read very hard during the exam period.

When I came 7th the next term, that was better but not good enough. I had to find a better way. And the better way I found was that I needed to read, not just during exam periods, but all the time.

That lesson has stayed with me ever since.

If I had never failed at all in school, I would have gone through life never learning the importance of hard work, and always believing that my natural talent is enough. The longer I stayed in that mindset, the harder it would have become to break out of it.

Until one day after I have gone out into the work environment. I would fail in a spectacular way and it would be totally devastating because I would believe that my talent had run out. That I was now stupid.

Bill Gates said that success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they cannot lose.

But when you fail, it will help you to quickly realize that you need more than just your talents to succeed. You need hard work too. And perseverance. 

Yes, failure is good for success, but it is not just good. Failure is a necessary ingredient if you want to experience true success. 

Samuel is an avid reader and a freelance writer, in that order. He fancies himself funny, but his friends regularly don't laugh at his jokes. I have been a student of personal development for several years, and I created this blog to share my knowledge with others and help them become better versions of themselves.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *