The Secret of Success May Be As Close As Your Last Failure

We see successful people all around us. They are the ones who seem to have the fanciest cars, biggest houses, great clothes and wonderfully satisfying jobs. Many of us look at those people and dream of achieving that level of success, if only we could discover their secret.

I once heard the president of a world famous computer company tell someone that the secret of his success could be summed up in two words, “Right decisions.”

When asked how he made right decisions, he responded, “Experience.”

Pressed further by the questioner, the president was asked how he got the experience to make the right decisions.

To that the president quickly answered, “Wrong decisions.”

Isn’t that the truth?

The older I get the more I realize how little I knew when I was young. I look back on all of the “wrong decisions” I have made in my life and shake my head knowing that I certainly wouldn’t make the same mistakes again. It is then that I realize I would not have gained the experience I now have which allows me to make the right decisions were it not for the mistakes I have made in the past.

So, does that mean that the older we get, the more chance we have of making all the “right decisions”? The answer to that depends on whether or not you are allowing yourself to take on new challenges and go along different paths as you enter each wonderful stage of your life.

There are times when we long for a safe and secure existence, remaining in that comfort zone with which we are familiar. It may seem as if we are in a rut, but it is safe and we know what to expect. It is easy to be successful in this comfort zone because we don’t take any new risks. Decisions are easy because everything remains the same.

But real living is all about taking risks. It is about experiencing new things and meeting new people. It is about expanding your circle of friends and becoming involved. When we are fully live, we grow as persons. When we stop growing, it is because we have stopped living. It is often the fear of failure which prevents many of us from experiencing life to the fullest, yet without failure we cannot be successful. It is quite a dilemma.

To help myself get over the fear of failure, I rely on a piece of writing I came across a long time ago that explained failure in a very positive manner. Let me share it with you.

Failure does not mean I’m a failure; It just means I have not yet succeeded.

Failure does not mean I have accomplished nothing; It just means I have learned something.

Failure does not mean I have disgraced myself; It just means that I have dared to try.

Failure does not mean I don’t have it; It just means I have to do something in a different way.

Failure does not mean I am inferior; It just means I am not perfect.

Failure does not mean I have wasted my life; It just means that I have an excuse to start over.

Failure does not mean that I should give up; It just means that I should try harder.

Failure does not mean that I will never make it; It just means that I need more practice.

Life is a series of ups and downs. That is what makes life so precious. We ride the emotional highs when we are successful and we experience the lows when we fail. But we should take heart in knowing that the secret of success may actually lie in our failures. Without failures from wrong decisions, we would lack the experience to make the right decisions later on in life. If there are some areas of your life right now in which you feel you are failing in some way, or in which you are not satisfied, look upon what has happened as a necessary step in achieving success. Then you will use your time to look for opportunities to use your new wisdom instead of dwelling on the failures and problems of the past.

I once heard a saying that went like this, “Everything is all right in the end! If it isn’t all right, then it isn’t the end!” So if there is something in your life that “isn’t all right yet”, just remember that “it isn’t the end until it is all right” and that since “everything is all right in the end” you really do have something to look forward to.


The Private Practice of
Robert Kirwan, OCT., B.A. (Math), M.A. (Education)
Independent Education, Training & Career Development Consultant