“Success is 99 percent failure.”
This is a powerful truth spoken by Soichiro Honda, who started in a wooden shack manufacturing bicycle motors and built the multinational automobile and motorcycle manufacturing company, Honda.
When we look at all the successful people globally, billionaires such as Elon Musk or Bill Gates, we get the impression that they have the golden touch and all of their endeavors have been successful. However, we don’t hear that all of these individuals overcame many failures before they became wildly successful.
Famous Failer: Colonel Sanders
A classic example of persistence, perseverance, and overcoming failures is Colonel Sanders, Kentucky Fried Chicken’s founder. His young adulthood consisted of a string of failures, one after another. After dropping out of school in the seventh grade and enlisting in the army, he was honorably discharged just a year later. The Colonel then was fired through his own poor behavior(he seemed to have a knack for getting into fights). He even had to move back in with his parents and resort to selling life insurance!
After suffering through the Great Depression with the rest of the country, he tried to start a lamp company, but somebody already was selling a better lamp, so his business failed. After that, Sanders began making his later to be famous chicken but the restaurant and hotel burned to the ground. He rebuilt only for World War II to caused his business to fold.
When he tried to franchise his restaurant, his chicken recipe was rejected 1,009 times before finally being accepted. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Colonel Sanders had to fail spectacularly in many different ways before finally achieving success late in his life
Success and Failure Are Just a Perspective
I have learned that “success” and “failure” are both just a perspective. And I tell myself and others about the importance of getting into the DNA of your mind and your soul and making it a deep part of you that as you breathe daily and live daily, both of those things are compatible. When you can do this, you know that success is part of failure and failure is part of success.
Michael Jordan understood this deeply. While he had an amazingly successful career, he also missed the game-winning shot and lost the critical playoff game many times for every game-winning shot or NBA finals victory. The quote below encapsulates how all successful individuals are also experts in failure.
The Journey to Success is Built on Failures
The willingness to fail is crucial to success because it means you are pushing the boundaries and have the boldness to do something wholly unique and innovative. As Einstein said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
By looking at it this way, you no longer need to be afraid of failing because you understand that the road to success is built upon all of your failures along the way. Thomas Edison was one of America’s greatest inventors with over 1,000 patents to his name. Despite this, he, again and again, failed to invent a light bulb that consistently worked.
Rather than viewing his attempts as “failures,” he re-framed them as steps on the way to success, saying, “We now know a thousand ways not to build a light bulb.”
It’s a long road to success, and people think that you’re successful when you hit a particular milestone or you have a certain amount of money you make. People see all the great stuff, but there is the whole journey that it took to get to that spot.
Lead to Gold: Extracting Positive from Negative
Central to my philosophy is the Alchemical idea of transforming Lead into Gold. This can have many different meanings, but concerning this topic, it means turning your failures into your success.
I look at any failures, challenges, or obstacles and see how quickly I can get to the mindset of “what’s the gift in this?”, “what am I supposed to be learning from this?”, “How can I benefit from this, and how can I help others?”, “What is God trying to share with me?”
The universe is always trying to communicate with you and show you the way forward; it is tapping me on the shoulder more and more to listen, be open, and be present in the present moment.
What I really continue to work on doing, and it’s not always easy for sure, is how can I find as much gratitude and joy and appreciation in the challenging things of life or what we perceive as failures. Sometimes it takes longer for that to show up; it’s not immediate gratification. But when you can find gratitude in the things that don’t go your way, you then open yourself up to new inspiration, new possibilities, and the quality of grace that allows you to make that alchemical transformation from lead to gold in your life and business.
Failures as Quantum Leaps on the Journey of Life
Failure is inevitable on the way to success, and rather than being something to fear, it is something to embrace and have gratitude for what it can teach you about yourself and life.All the things I look at as my past failures, they’ve also been significant quantum leaps in my resilience, my belief system, and my stamina for life.
I like to say that “resistance is the price you pay for the dream you say you want.” And when you follow your dreams, you will experience all kinds of resistance. The key is in framing those remittances so that they are not blocks in your path but instead steps that are perfectly placed to give you the experiences and teach you the lessons you need to learn to achieve your goals and dreams.
I have experienced plenty of challenges and what may be called failures. Whether it was getting fired from Berkshire Hathaway, my health challenges, almost dying, quitting alcohol or quitting smoking cigarettes when I was in my 20s, or having companies or relationships not work out as you think that they might.
These all seemed like significant failures at the time, but now I can see that they are all part of the journey, part of the experience of growing, learning, and evolving as a human being and as an entrepreneur.
It was the challenges of these failures that provided the necessary friction and pressure to force me to evolve to greater levels, just as it is the pressure upon the coal that turns it into the diamond. So in that way, I seek to be grateful for failures and challenges as they are all part of the tapestry of life.
I encourage you to focus on being present in the moment and realizing that all the trials and tribulations are part of the journey, and you can’t have success without failure.
You can’t have cold without hot, night without day, Yin without Yang, happiness without sorrow, and you can’t have success without failure.
Both of these experiences are one side of the two-sided coin of life.
When you allow the difficult experiences to be what they are, you remain in the balanced point where you can re-define those experiences as being positive and ultimately serving you in experiencing more of the positive side of the coin.
So the key takeaway here is to understand that failure is inevitable on the way to success, and rather than being something to fear, it is something to embrace and have gratitude for what it can teach you about yourself and life.
After decades of experience as a CEO and entrepreneur, I am well experienced in both failure and success and how to navigate them. I am now available for a complimentary introductory coaching call where I can guide you and your business through these challenges. Go here to sign up.