How to Stand up to Failure

When we give ourselves permission to fail, we at the same time give ourselves permission to excel. – Eloise Ristad


Failure is like a woman you accidentally bumped into on the street. She follows you home and lives in your shadow. Ever so often, she reminds you of how you met.

Finally, you stand up to her and say, “Your days here are numbered, but until I throw you out, teach me everything you know.”

And failure cheerfully responds, “That’s all I ever wanted—to work for you, in whatever way you choose.”

Make failure your teacher, not your undertaker.

— Zig Ziglar

Six Characteristics of Failure

  1. Failure is transitory, but she stays with you as long as you allow her.
  2. Failure challenges you to do something differently to obtain different results.
  3. Failure is not your enemy; you sabotage her mission if you treat her like one.
  4. Failing at something is not the same as you being a failure.
  5. Failure not only teaches you; she empowers you to teach what you learned.
  6. Failure is part of the success process; you could meet her again.

(1) Entrepreneurial Failure

The Story of R. H. Macy*

Macy's Manhattan, NY Store

Photo by Balou46
Photo by Balou46 | Source

Rowland Hussey Macy was born on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts in 1822. By age 36, failure had taught him many lessons including, perseverance, creativity, commitment to purpose, and the importance of designing a unique plan for success. Following is a list of his failures, leading up to his success on his seventh attempt at retailing.

  1. His first entrepreneurial effort was a thread and needle store in Boston. He worked hard, but it failed within a year.
  2. His second effort was a dry goods store. He worked hard, but failed again.
  3. His third attempt was in partnership with Samuel S. Houghton, and he learned much; but after a year decided that he wanted something different.
  4. Macy and his brother, Charles traveled west to California to mine gold. They failed to get rich in gold, but seized the opportunity to sell goods to the miners. They opened Macy and Company in Marysville, north of Sacramento. When the miners left the area, so did the Macy brothers.
  5. Macy opened a dry goods store in Haverhill, Massachusetts, north of Boston. By now, failure had taught him some important lessons and challenged him to develop his unique style of business: selling at fixed prices, cash only, heavy advertising. That business also failed.
  6. He tried again, and after three years, failed again and declared bankruptcy.

He decided to try another line of business. He worked as a stockbroker, then as a real estate broker. He made some money, but failed again.

7th Attempt: In 1858, at age 36, Macy moved to Manhattan where he made his seventh attempt at retail. In twelve months, he achieved tremendous success and in twelve years, the store averaged $1 million in sales per year.

Today, with the acquisition of stores from other companies, there are about 800 Macy’s department stores. Macy died in 1877, an example of a man who stood up to failure.


(2) Academic Failure

Bill Gates dropped out of college.

Academic Failure

Maybe you dropped out of high school or college because:

  • you lacked the talent to cope
  • your juvenile attitude got you into trouble
  • adverse circumstances presented obstacles.

The fact that you dropped out is permanent, but the causes are almost always reversible. First, decide the direction you want your life to take, and consider the options.

"Bill Gates dropped out of college. So did Michael Dell. So did Mr. Zuckerberg, who made the Forbes billionaires list at 23", according to the New York Times (20/12/02).

College education is important but it is not a substitute for character. Good work ethics can survive without it. Failure cannot stalk you when you are determined to thrive despite your past experience.


(3) Financial Failure

Entrepreneurs average 3.8 failures before they make it.

The average for entrepreneurs is 3.8 failures before they finally make it in business. Macy’s failures were almost twice the average. Let his attitude inspire you.

Financial failure can also create personal losses like foreclosures, repossessions and loss of credit. Take responsibility for your contribution to your dilemma and learn money managing skills from agencies like GreenPath. They teach you useful tips you might never learn if failure had not sent you.

Photo by Joshua Cintron
Photo by Joshua Cintron | Source

(4) Moral Failure

Moral failure reminds you of better capabilities.

Moral Failure

If you experience moral failure, it is because you have acted contrary to the moral principles you choose to live by. Your self-deceit resulted in a fallen self-image. Failure reminds you of the importance of good character, and the steps necessary to live with a free conscience.

  • Confession –admitting your failure— helps you focus on gaining strength where you are weak.
  • Repentance—condemning your failure— makes you examine what you really believe, and the direction you honestly want to follow.
  • Forgiveness—accepting God’s forgiveness for your failure (which some refer to as, forgiving yourself), allows you to understand that you are not your failure.

Fear of who knows about your failure and what they will say, can tie you to the failure. You do not have control over people and their thoughts about you. Let their gossip work for you by providing the incentive to get up, leave your failure with them, while you move forward more humble, but more focused.


(5) Failed Relationships

Failed relationships motivate improvement in people skills.

If you ever get divorced or experience a breakup in any special relationship, failure motivates you to make the following steps for your emotional healing and for improving your chances of better relationships in the future.

  • Examine your attitude and actions for the part you may have played in the failed relationship.
  • Deal with your damaged emotions before jumping into another relationship.
  • Assess your weakness and strength for an awareness of how to proceed in a new relationship.
  • Forgive the other person for their contribution.
  • Pick up the pieces and get back on track to fulfill your purpose.


Remembering Failure

Do you have an experience of failure which comes to your mind often?

See results without voting

Conclusion

Failure is like a woman you accidentally bumped into on the street. She follows you home and constantly reminds you of how sightless and careless you were when you collided with her.

The more she condemns you, the more you are convinced of ways you can improve and plans you can reset.

Finally, you stand up to her and say, “I've gained some new ideas. I'm ready to move on, so you might as well leave."

And failure cheerfully responds, “That’s all I ever wanted—to provoke you into taking on new challenges."

Where would you be, if you had not stood up to failure?


*Macy's story adapted from John C. Maxwell's Failing Forward (Thomas Nelson,Inc. Nashville, Tennessee, 2000)


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44 comments

word55 profile image

word55 3 years ago from Chicago

Well MsDora, this was a perfect lesson on failure. How shall anyone fail in life after reading this? No way shall I. Thank you very much! That was so, very well put together. Voted up!


ieschiefengineer profile image

ieschiefengineer 3 years ago from India

very nice description.


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

How to Make Failure Work for You great hub, admitting to ones failure is so important. Individuals often repeat their mistakes in new relationships from their old relationships and this is sad because the innocent is hurt. A brilliantly thought of hub, informative and useful indeed.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Word, thanks for your kind comment. Your very positive attitude is encouraging.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thank you, Ies. The very best to you!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

DDE, I appreciate your continual support. I agree with you and feel deeply for those who suffer because someone else did not learn from a previous failure. If only we would all take the time to learn and to heal.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

Great story, what better example? It takes a strong person to get kicked down that many times and keep trying again. Personally this did happen with me owning and running my own bookstore. My first attempt was complete failure but I didn't let my dream die. I made a bigger investment in a better community and it worked for me. Sometimes we just have to face our fears head on. ^


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Jackie, thank you for sharing your experience. I admire you for standing up to failure and holding on to your dream. All the best going forward!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

I smiled as I read your introduction. Well done, Dora! You had me hooked with the opening simile and then your advice was perfect.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Wow, MsDora, what an insightful hub here and I love your analogy of the woman! Boy, if it were not for my many failures, and all the wisdom I have gained from such failures, I just do not know where I would be this day!

The most successful people in history have failed hundreds if not thousands of times, but the key is they never gave up and learned from their failures.

Up and more and sharing

God bless, Faith Reaper


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Billy, a "Well Done" from you means a lot to me. Thank you for your valuable feedback.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Faith, thank you for your affirmation. Never give up and keep learning. I know that's right.


BwanaPapyrus profile image

BwanaPapyrus 3 years ago from Washington DC area

This especially works for a writer, you take any failure or especially any feelings or emotions and use them to drive the next story you write. Channel the energy from rejections, for example, into your writing and change a negative to a positive force!

Thanks to Ms Dora for showing us the path.


JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

MsDora - This is a very inspirational hub on so many levels. Since many of the readers on HP are also freelance writers, they/we are accustomed to receiving rejections, whether in the form of actual printed notices from publishers, fewer clients than wished or less traffic to hubs than desired.

If we allow such rejections to make us feel like failures, a self-fulfilling prophesy occurs. If, however, we use these rejections to improve our writing and the marketing of our work, we're using lessons from that uninvited visitor.

Voted Up+++ and shared

Jaye


sheilamyers 3 years ago

Very inspirational! I especially liked the quote about how failing is not the same thing as being a failure. Thanks for the reminder that if we fail, we need to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and keep going.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Bwana Papyrus, thank you for your input. You gave a perfect illustration.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Hi Jaye, thank you for your comment. You made good application of the message which, by the way, is primarily for me. Thanks for your input.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Sheila, you said it very well. thank you for your valuable input.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

MSdora your hubs are just so well done Im surprised most of them aren't editor's choice because they are top notch.. I love the intro to this one especially.. voted useful.. creative and my editors choice nom..:)


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 3 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

Thanks for your informative parable on failure! It only makes sense and helps me to see the experiences of my life differently. Although I have never given up, and have learned from the failures I have had, I tend to be afraid of rejection when it comes to my writing. If I look at these as learning experiences, I can move forward more productively.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Hi Frank, you're very kind. I'm not quite sure what qualifies an article for editors' choice, but I'm grateful that I have a few. I'll keep trying.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Denise, rejection is usually from one person. We have to keep searching for the right person who is wise enough to see the benefit of what we write. Thank you for sharing.


CraftytotheCore profile image

CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

This is awesome and I personally needed to read and heed this advice today. What an amazingly talented writer you are MsDora!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Crafty, thank you for your encouraging comment. I need to read and re-read this too. It is very easy to forget the positives.


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 3 years ago from California

Graceful, style, and creativity describe this article. History is a grand teacher.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Tireless, thank you for your comment. We are all wiser because of the past failures of those who share their stories.


Mahir Maric profile image

Mahir Maric 3 years ago from Bosnia and Herzegovina

I think the failure, as you have mentioned, isn't failure. Most of the times it is an opportunity for us. Failure becomes failure when we decide to repeat our mistakes but till that moment it just an upgrade for our character and our knowledge. Useful hub, thanks


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Mahir, thank you for your valuable input. We understand your point of view.


JPSO138 profile image

JPSO138 3 years ago from Cebu, Philippines, International

Thanks for this hub. I really appreciate each word and truly it inspires me to do what I wanted. Voted up and awesome!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

JPSO, glad you found some inspiration in the article. All the best with whatever it is you want to do!


lovedoctor926 3 years ago

A very well-presented hub. There's no success without failure. What an amazing story about failure. Good points. Voted up useful.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thank you, LoveDoctor. You said it all in one sentence. I appreciate your input.


lovedoctor926 3 years ago

Your welcome:) This is one hub worth reading. thank you


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thank you again. LoveDoc. I know that I, for one, will be re-reading it often.


Beth37 3 years ago

This was so good and something I need to remind myself of *all the time. Thank you.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Beth, there are several others, including me, who admit to needing the reminder. Glad to help keep this important issue before us.


ignugent17 profile image

ignugent17 3 years ago

I agree with you MsDora that failure is not an enemy. Wonderful hub thanks for sharing. :-) Voted up and more.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Ignugent, thank you for your feedback and your votes. We have to be at a certain stage of maturity to realize the importance of failure.


mathira profile image

mathira 3 years ago from chennai

MsDora, failure is a unnecessary fear because we do have the potential to tide over problems but sadly we think we are destined to be defeated. Thank you for sharing such inspiring thoughts.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Mathi, thank you for your input on the topic of failure. Your thought is inspiring too.


Fiona Jean Mckay profile image

Fiona Jean Mckay 2 years ago from South Africa

Well, I failed on a financial level but I am dusting myself off and pulling myself up again - slowly but surely. Thanks for a really inspirational hub and links to some great books.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Fiona, welcome to the club. We are still alive, and able to pull ourselves up, so let's do it. Thank you for sharing.


Purpose Embraced profile image

Purpose Embraced 2 years ago from Jamaica

Yes, there are lessons we can learn from our failures and disappointments. Many people, including myself, have testimonies of how they bounced back after failing. Thanks for sharing MsDora.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Purpose Embrace, thank you for sharing. Those failures are tall stepping stones for the wise.

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