ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Great Success Stories: The Motivation of Failure

Updated on November 7, 2010

Isn't it interesting how failure can motivate? And I mean, motivate you to come back after failure and succeed - in big and amazing ways.

It runs against the basics of our logical or intuitive thought to understand this. If you fail, you fail. Success is not failure. Failure is not success. Realistically, if you say, "I feel like a failure", it's more likely you've hit a motivational skid, that inhibits your ability to pursue success, that it is that you are merely going to pick yourself up and win the next battle.

But that is what failure should motivate you to do - pick yourself right back up and go out and succeed at your next endeavor. And the world's most successful people have done exactly that - usually more than once.

Consider Steve Jobs - the innovative intellect behind Apple, Inc. and its tremendous technology empire. But Steve Jobs wasn't just born into success and not everything he has touched has turned to gold.

Back in 1984, when it seemed that Apple would rule the home computer generation, was so far ahead of Microsoft in its software and so far ahead of IBM in its hardware, Apple made an enormous bet against Microsoft and lost. Apple was committed to the proprietary use of its software in combination with its on components and would not license either for use with third party producers.

Microsoft, on the other hand, saw licensing as its chance to get ahead. Already, IBM was finding the competition for production of PC's to be extremely fierce, and wanted to lock in the ability to have a safe and secure operating system - Windows - that would enable the mass production it desired. Microsoft was the big winner as it licensed its software for use on IBM PC's and 100% of the "clone" market of PC's that would be manufactured by HP, Compac, Sony, and eventually the new giants, like Dell, Gateway and Toshiba.

Steve Jobs was escorted to the history books by technology and investment analysts around the world. Yet Steve Jobs never gave up. He waited. And when the technology world began to change and the size of the gadgets we use began to change, Steve Jobs and Apple were ready. Through the back door, they captured the mobile market, by starting out with music. Through the iPod, Apple was able to garner the attention of the maturing generation, those of an age that had yet to marry themselves to laptops, PCs and other personal technologies. They were wireless and convenient.

This opened the door to Apple's exploitation of the handheld market in every other way too. The iPhone incorporates everything an iPod, Mac and cell phone could do separately before, and from an incredibly virus and problem free environment.

Was Steve Jobs motivated by failure? I can't say for sure, but it's likely that watching Bill Gates soar past him on the Forbes 500 list made him think very hard about how he could restore himself to earlier glory. Now Steve Jobs does not come across as an egocentric, zealot out to be first in everything, but he certainly has an incredible drive and sense of forethought.

And he's not alone. In 2009, the National Football League has become a venue for watching stories of very talented quarterbacks working very hard to regain prior glory. Brett Favre - is there anyone who isn't familiar with his story? But there's also Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Even Tom Brady. All men who have been at the top of the league - but who found themselves watching the playoffs and Super Bowl from their own living rooms last year. My guess is that two of these four QBs will meet in the Super Bowl in 2010, and that the disappointments of last year have much to do with their success now.

So what is it about failure that motivates someone to succeed. I think there are three basic components here:

  1. Initial Desire - no one cares about failure unless they are trying to succeed at something . It doesn't really matter what it is, but you have to be trying to accomplish something before failure can even be defined. So the fact is there is a drive, a motivation, that has to exist even before you get to the point where you can fail.
  2. Fight or Flight - fear is another component, and in the sense of the fight or flight reaction we all have at some level to certain stimuli. Failure will motivate you to avoid a negative consequence you really do not want to endure.
  3. Adaptability - the will to win is usually not enough to bring about success on its own. You have to be able to change with your environment. In the 1980s, legendary basketball coach Bobby Knight found his slow tempo style to be incompatible with new rules and better athletes. He hit bottom in the middle of that decade and people thought his days were numbered. But he changed the style of game he coached and used a fast paced approach to defeat the run and gun style of Nevada- Las Vegas on the way to a third national championship in 1987. You must be able to adapt to come back from failure and succeed.

Desire, avoidance and adaptability - when these three pieces combine - today's failures can lead to tomorrow's great success!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      m upset 

      8 years ago

      I failed an exam.... nd m very depressed.... m gettin onothr opportunity to pass but m still remembering my failure.... i m unable to forget it... tomorrow everyone's eyes will be at me... how'll i face 'em n my teachers......:-/

    • saesha profile image


      10 years ago

      this is inspiring. a great story as well!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Really interesting article, Thank for sharing


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)