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Failure as Feedback for Success: How Dale Carnegie used failure as learning experience to become a success

Updated on May 23, 2014
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Ben is scientist, teacher, researcher and author who loves to help you to be more, do more and achieve more. He is an Amazon kindle author

Failure as Feedback for Success: How Dale Carnegie used failure as learning experience to become a success
Failure as Feedback for Success: How Dale Carnegie used failure as learning experience to become a success

And you can too!

If you think that most of the successful men you hear about today had always found the success landscape easy; then you have to think again. To be successful you need to develop the ability to learn from your mistakes. There are very important principles which most successful people have understood and this makes it possible for them to succeed where others seem to have failed. In his book Awaken the Giant Within; he called it “The Ultimate Success Formula”, and is made of the following steps:

1. Decide what you want

2. Take action

3. Notice what’s working or not, and

4. Change your approach until you achieve what you want

The inspirational story of how Carnegie followed this idea to succeed was told by John C Maxwell in his book “Your Road Map for Success.” It was a story fold by Giles Kemp and Edward Claflin in their book: Dale Carnegie – The Man Who Inflenced Millions.

How did someone whose early life was plagued with failure become worldwide phenomena with success?

He grew up in poverty. He was so poor that when he decided to go teachers college in Warrensburg, Missouri, he lived at home and was riding to school each day on horseback.

He was interested in public speaking from his teens, so Carnegies decided that he wanted t earn recognition at the college by entering speech contests. He never won a single competition, but learned each time he tried and failed.

Despite his hard work at the college, he failed to graduate when he didn’t pass Latin. He then moved from Maryville Missouri, to New York City, where he tried acting and sales, but success was still cut short.

Dale then got up cut up with a golden opportunity. He applied for a job at the YCMA to teach classes in public speaking. Because he lacked the experience, the YCMA didn’t offer him the usual salary of two dollar per session.He was accepted on a trial basis. The condition for his continued employment was that: if he was effective and retained students, he would earn money. If not, he would loss his job.

Though he ha failed to win a speech contest or become successful as an actor, he succeeded at the YCMA. He realised his teenage dream of becoming a punblic speaker. Those early detours according to John Maxwell had taught him a lot. Soon he was developing his own courses and writing pamphlets the he would later publish as books. In their book Kemp and Claflin had to say this about him:”Carnegie rose to fame as one of the most effective trainers of speakers and one of the best-selling authors of all time. Two keys enabled him to turn failure into success: his unwillingness to be stopped by failure, and his unwillingness to learn from failure.

Moreover he secretly followed the ultimate success formula: decided what he

wanted, took action, noticed what’s working or not, and, changed his approach until he achieve what he wanted.

Today the name Carnegie is synonymous with success. His Dale Carnegie Institute for Effective Speaking and Human Relations currently trains people all over the world. His book How to Win Friends and Influence People has sold for more than fifteen million copies and continues to sell sixty years after it was established


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    • Lady_E profile image


      3 years ago from London, UK

      I have read quotes by him but this is the first time I am reading about him. (Dale C)

      Thanks for sharing.

    • lemmyC profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from UK

      Happyboomernurse, thanks again for stopping over to comment on this article. One thing I've realised is that all achievers in their different pursuits fail and fail forward. They have a growing mindset. No wonder Henry Ford said:

      "Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently."

      I appreciate your comments!

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      6 years ago from South Carolina

      Thanks for sharing this inspiring and interesting article which helps us realize that failure itself isn't the problem. It's how we respond. If we give up and think we ourselves are defective, then we're doomed to fail forever. If we use it as a learning tool and keep trying new approaches, letting go of what doesn't work and replacing it with things that do we can go on to great success.


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