Success Is Not Final, Failure Is Not Fatal: 8 Lessons Only Failing Can Teach You

by Paul Hudson

Regardless of what you are attempting to accomplish, what success you are gunning after, if it’s something worth pursuing, then you’re going to fail – miserably – plenty of times before you strike gold.

As markets become more popular, the pools become saturated with talent. With each new year, it gets slightly more difficult to achieve your dreams – assuming that others are pursuing the same passions.

Lucky for you, most of these people are going to throw in the towel way before the finish line. The trick to success is to continue pushing after others have given up. It’s those left standing who live the lives of which they always dreamed.

It’s a brutal journey, no matter what passions you are pursuing. There is much to learn from failure. In reality, it’s life’s best teacher. Here are a few things that you’re bound to learn along your way to greatness:

1. It’s harder than it looks.

Maybe not from the start, but once you’re in the weeds, you’ll notice that the difficulty is much greater than you imagined. This is because learning a skill or technique is easy.

Perfecting it, on the other hand, is much more difficult. Even if you seem to be picking things up rapidly from the get-go, once you’ve been playing the game for a while, things actually get more difficult.

Once you’re in the big leagues, you’re going up against big players – players who most likely have been doing whatever it is that you’re doing for longer than you’ve been doing it. This is when most people hit a wall and decide to give up.

2. You’re not as smart as you think you are.

When we see others doing something that we wish we could do, we usually think to ourselves: “I could do that. No problem.” We believe in ourselves and believe that we are capable of great things – and we are.

Unfortunately, even geniuses fail. Chances are, you’re no genius. The truth to it is that you have much to learn. There’s always much to learn. In order to succeed, you must familiarize yourself with your trade inside and out – get to know every nook and cranny.

You may be smart. You may be a genius even. But without the right information, you will fail. Smart isn’t enough.

3. Just about nobody gets it right the first time.

We all hear those stories of overnight successes or those prodigies that seem to manage to get everything right the first time around. It’s not impossible… but it’s extraordinarily unlikely.

Besides, making it big once isn’t exactly success. Success isn’t so much an ending to the story, but rather when the real story begins. To be successful is to win, over and over and over again.

Making it big once isn’t enough and most individuals who do make it the first time around (as few in number as they already are) can’t seem to get it right afterward. Is it really success? Or did they just get lucky?

4. It’s not only up to you – you need a bit of luck as well.

The truth is that no matter how much you prepare, how much you know, how hard you try, you live in a universe that has a mind of its own. Timing, as many have claimed before, is everything.

To win in life is to have your stars align while you’re pushing your hardest. You can push your entire life, if the window never opens then you’ll only continue to fail.

If your window is open and you’re not gunning for the gold then you will likewise fail. This may seem unfair, but c'est la vie.

5. Failing sucks just the same each time you do it.

You’d think that after a while you’d be numb from the bludgeoning and that your failures would begin to roll off your back. Your shortcomings can roll off your back if you allow them to, but that initial blow will always sting. How could it not?

You put your time, your energy, your focus and your heart into your project only to see it face-plant into the ground below.

It can be emotionally nerve-racking. The only thing you can do is remember that it’s all part of the process. Remind yourself that you can’t succeed if you don’t fail and hopefully you won’t go nuts in the process.

6. It’s a lot easier to give up than to keep going.

I like to describe the first couple of months, maybe even the first year, as feeling like you’re living in a "Rocky" movie (for some it’s much shorter).

You feel energized, excited and ready to take on the world. You train. You push yourself. You’re focused and hungry. Rocky trains and wins, but you… you fail. Then you fail again. And then again. And after that first stretch, that first few months or first year, you’re burnt out.

Those who succeed are those who decide not to give up. You can take a break, take a breather and recoup, but you can never give up. In the beginning, throwing in the towel seems impossible, but after a couple of rounds, it seems like heaven on earth. If you’re not comfortable in hell, then don’t get into the ring.

7. You’re not made of glass.

Failing often seems like the worst thing that could ever happen to you. You have your hopes up very high because you’re you and you’re awesome. You’re smart. You’re hard working. You have a great team and great support. You’re set to succeed.

Failing doesn’t even seem like a possibility, while doing so would be the end of your world. Failure isn’t an option – or so you thought. You can’t imagine yourself failing because you find it to be incredibly frightening. But then you do fail and you know what? You survived.

Your world didn’t end; you’re still breathing. Knowing that you can fail and still keep kicking is incredibly empowering. In fact, chances are that the next time around, you’ll be even more ballsy.

8. Once you succeed, the failures no longer matter.

You may fail 99 times, but when you succeed that 100th time, the 99 times prior feel like a dream. These painful and depressing moments of your life get washed over by the bliss that is winning. Losing felt like the worst thing in the world, but winning is even more intense. In fact, the more times you fail, the sweeter your eventual victory.

When people cry after they succeed, it’s not only because of the happiness they feel. It’s the remnants of all that pain they experienced getting to where they are, leaving their soul in one final outpour. There will be scars, but you’ll look upon them with pride.

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