6 Things I Have Learned About Failure


If you have been a leader for any length of time, you are familiar with failure.  Here are 6 things I have learned about failure:

1.  Failure brings with it the possibilities of something greater. When I analyze and learn from my failure, I discover seeds for turning the failure into success. No one would consider Thomas Edison to be a failure, yet he reportedly failed 1000 times in creating the light bulb.  He said, “I have not failed 1000 times; I have successfully discovered 1000 ways not to make a light bulb.”

2.  Failure is OK.  It is not the disgrace I think it is.  Every leader fails; it is part of being human and part of leadership.  I need to own up to it; take responsibility for it.  It is worse to blame others for my failure.  When I am authentic and vulnerable with my own failures, others are able to relate to me on a different level rather than hold me on a pedestal and at a distance.

3.  Failure is many times only a temporary setback.  Failure is never final, unless I give up and quit. If you want to learn about someone who never quit and persevered through failure, look no further than Abraham Lincoln.  Here is a quick glance at his failures:

      • 1832, Lost job
      • 1832, Defeated for legislature
      • 1833, Failed in business
      • 1834, Elected to legislature
      • 1835, Sweetheart (Ann Rutledge) died
      • 1836, Had nervous breakdown
      • 1838, Defeated for Speaker
      • 1843, Defeated for nomination for Congress
      • 1846, Elected to Congress
      • 1848, Lost renomination
      • 1849, Rejected for Land Officer
      • 1854, Defeated for Senate
      • 1856, Defeated for nomination for Vice-President
      • 1858, Defeated again for Senate
      • 1860, Elected President

4.  Failure is actually greater when I don’t take risks. Nothing worthwhile is ever achieved without running the risk of failure.  The ultimate failure is to have stayed in the safe zone and never have risked failure at all.

5.  Failure can be a blessing or a curse.  It depends upon my reaction or response to it. What I do with failure in my life is up to me. 

6.  Failure can be redeemed.  I have told my kids, “What you think is your greatest failure, mistake or sin, God can redeem and use as your greatest strength for helping others.”   Failure is our greatest presentation card to greater impact in the lives of others.

What have you learned from failure?

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About Steve Morgan

I work in Global Leadership Development with Cru with my wife, Terry. We have been married 30 years and have 4 grown children. We have a Masters in Global Leadership together through Azusa Pacific University. I generally write about 5 “L’s: Living Well, Loving Deeply, Learning Continuously, Leading Courageously and Leaving a Legacy. I occasionally write about Laughing Loudly. Subscribe on the right side to receive an email whenever there is a new post. I invite you to leave your comments so we can dialogue on the various topics and learn from each other. If you are new to the site, you might start with looking at some of the top posts or doing a search on the right side bar for one of the 5 “L’s” that interest you. Or you can view the blog archives for topics. Photo Credit: sarahjoellephotography.com
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4 Responses to 6 Things I Have Learned About Failure

  1. Pingback: 5 for Leadership | Gary Runn

    • Steve Morgan says:

      Thanks Gary for including me in your 5 for Leadership! I enjoy the posts. Thanks for doing some of the digging through mountains of info to mine out some of the best stuff for our context. Blessings.

  2. Francis lungu says:

    Failure is not final but a begaining of new hope

    • Steve Morgan says:

      Hi Francis, I love that! Very well said. Failure is never the end of the story with God. I love the idea of it being the beginning of hope. It sounds like this is a conviction that has come from personal experience.

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