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Quotations for Motivation #52 --- Failure

Updated on May 8, 2011

Quotations on Failure

The only failure is the failure to build success on top of failure.

—Joseph H. Appel, The Making of a Man, New York, N.Y., 1921.

Failures are people who somehow manage to go downhill while standing still.

—Bill Copeland, Sarasota Journal, Sarasota, Fla., June 3, 1966.

Most people dread failure. That is right if we do not allow fear of failure to cause us to fail in the very worst way–that is, to fail to try. ... No one can avoid failure if he does less than his best.

—Mattie M. Boteler, Christian Standard, Cincinnati, Ohio, Nov. 1, 1919.

All the time you spend analyzing your failures and foibles is time lost from developing your successes and strengths.

—Bernard Haldane, Milwaukee Sentinel, Milwaukee, Wis., Sept. 7, 1960.

To fail is no disgrace unless you fail because you did not try.

—H.W. Knickerbocker, Houston Post-Dispatch, Houston, Texas, Sept. 24, 1928.

We hear a great deal about success, but it eludes a positive description. We generally think of the achievement of a desired goal as being success, but many men we have known have been successful, who did not achieve their original goals. ... Others have turned failures into success by pursuing their objectives in spite of numerous failures. They used the lessons learned with each failure as stepping stones to help them to eventual success. Thomas Edison was one of these.

Failure is the opposite of success. To fail does not mean the temporary non-achievement of a goal, but rather, to give up and quit. It's not the falling down, but the staying down. Someone has said that failure is success turned inside out. A successful man is like a rubber ball; the harder he is thrown down, the higher he bounces back. To make a mistake is not always a sin, but not to correct it is. Starting over is no disgrace, it is an opportunity. A man who refuses to stay down cannot be beaten.

Whether or not a man feels he is successful depends upon the extent to which he measures up to the goals he has set for himself.

—R. Crawford Davis, Westate, Denver, Colo., January 1964.

Sometimes our efforts will end in failure. This doesn't matter too much, but the important thing is, can we pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off and continue on our way in spite of failure and disappointments? Perhaps the fear of failure will interrupt our journey to success. It has often been said that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. We can overcome our fears by doing. We have to always have an important goal and aim for it. We have to accept delays, interruptions and disappointments and still be persistent in following our course.

We can't accomplish anything worthwhile if we don't keep moving. Our momentum must be such that we will reach our goal and surpass it. Thereby, we acquire habits that keep us going to greater and greater destinations.

—R. Crawford Davis, Westate, Denver, Colo., September 1964.

The man who has failed is the man who could tell the world a lot about success.

People seek the cause of success from the man who has achieved something, and he does not know why. He may have just happened to strike the right move and would probably have failed if he ran life's course over again.

But the man who has failed–he knows deeply and poignantly why he has failed to reach his goal.

Success, anyway, is more a question of avoiding certain pitfalls than it is of taking certain definite actions.

—Burris A. Jenkins, Kansas City Post, Kansas City, Mo., Oct. 24, 1919.

Every failure teaches a man something, if he will only learn.

—Burris A. Jenkins, Kansas City Post, Kansas City, Mo., Feb. 16, 1920.

What makes life seem a failure is usually a result of having had no objective in life.

—Roy L. Smith, Tampa Morning Tribune, Tampa, Fla., March 30, 1933.

One distinguishing characteristic of every real failure is his perfect alibis.

—Roy L. Smith, Tampa Morning Tribune, Tampa, Fla., June 15, 1937.

We must not make an excuse out of our failures.

—Roy L. Smith, Tampa Morning Tribune, Tampa, Fla., May 9, 1938.

The saddest failures are those who have defeated themselves.

—Roy L. Smith, Tampa Morning Tribune, Tampa, Fla., March 6, 1940.

To be content with failure is the worst failure.

—Roy L. Smith, Tampa Morning Tribune, Tampa, Fla., Feb. 14, 1941.

One of our problems is how to recognize success and failure when we see them--how to distinguish between them. It is so easy to mistake the one for the other. Success sometimes wears the somber robes of failure, and quite often failure pompously parades in the royal habiliments of triumphant success.

Now success does not inhere in the possession of spoils. It is a spiritual achievement, not a triumph in greedy acquisitiveness. ... Adversity, if we accept it as a challenge and welcome it as a friend, will conduct us to the only substantial success in life. It is a source of progress for the individual and for civilization as a whole.

—J.A. Hill, Amarillo Times, Amarillo, Texas, Sept. 2, 1949.

Failure sometimes becomes a blessing, when it turns one back from contemplated purposes which would mean embarrassment--or even total destruction had they been carried out.

Failure often opens new doors to opportunity, and provides one with useful knowledge of the realities of life by the trial and error method. It also frequently reveals methods and plans which will not work, and cures vain people of their conceit. ...

The failures of Abraham Lincoln in storekeeping, surveying, soldiering and the practice of law had only the effect of preparing him to lead our people through the worst crisis in the War Between the States. Lincoln became great because his mental attitude was such that his struggles led him to a source of power he would not have known without his unpleasant experience. ...

Failure in physical health sometimes diverts an individual's attention from his body to his brain, and introduces him to the real "boss" of the physical body, the mind, and opens wide horizons of opportunity he never would have known without the failure.

Failure usually affects people in one or the other in two ways: It serves only as a challenge to greater effort, as in Lincoln's case, or it subdues and discourages one from making another try.

The majority of people give up hope and quit at the first signs of failure, even before it catches up with them. And a large percentage of people quit when they are overtaken by only one failure, be it ever so trifling.

The potential leader never is subdued by failure, but is inspired to greater effort by it. Watch your reaction to your failures and you will know if you have the potentialities for leadership.

If you can keep on trying after three failures in a given undertaking, you may consider yourself a "suspect" as a leader in your present occupation. If you can keep on trying after a dozen failures, the seed of a genius is sprouting within you. Give it the sunshine of hope and faith and watch it grow into great personal achievements.

It appears that nature often knocks individuals down with adversity in order to learn who among them will get up and make another fight.

The world generously forgives one for his mistakes and temporary defeats provided that he accepts them as a challenge and keeps on trying, but there is no forgiveness for the sin of quitting when the going is hard.

—Napoleon Hill, Houston Post, Houston, Texas, Aug. 8, 1956.

The successful person knows precisely what he desires, has a plan for getting it, believes in his ability to get it, and devotes a major portion of his time to acquiring it.

The failure has no definite purpose in life, believes that all success is the result of "luck," and moves on his own initiative only when forced to do so.

The successful person is a master salesman who has learned the art of influencing others to cooperate with him in a friendly spirit to carry out his plans and purposes. The failure finds fault with people. He goes out of his way to let them know about his critical attitude.

The successful person thinks before he speaks. He weighs his words carefully. And he emphasizes his likes concerning people, softpedaling his dislikes or mentioning them not at all.

The unsuccessful person speaks before he thinks. His words bring him only regret and embarrassment and cost him irretrievable benefits because of the resentment then engender.

The successful person expresses opinions only after having informed himself so he can do so intelligently. The failure expresses opinions on subjects of which he has little or no knowledge.

The successful person budgets his time, his income and his expenditures, and lives within his means. The failure spends his time and his income with a contemptuous disregard for their value.

The successful person takes a keen interest in people, especially those with whom he desires some favor. The successful person is open-minded and tolerant on all subjects, toward all people; while the failure has a closed mind, steeped in intolerance, which shuts him off from the recognition of favorable opportunities and the friendly cooperation of others.

The successful person keeps abreast of the times and makes it an important part of his responsibility to know what is going on--not only in his own business, profession or community, but throughout the entire world. The failure concerns himself only with his immediate needs, acquiring them by whatever means are available, fair or foul.

The successful person keeps his mind and his outlook on life positive at all times. He recognizes that the space he occupies in the world and the success he enjoys depend upon the quality and quantity of service he renders. He makes it a habit to render more service than he promises.

The failure looks for "something for nothing," or something under the table which he did not earn. And when he fails to get it, he blames the greed and selfishness of others.

The successful person has a keen respect for his Creator and expresses it frequently through prayers and deeds of helpfulness to others. The failure believes in nothing but his own desire for food and shelter, and seeks these at the expense of others when and where he can.

All and all, there is a big difference in both the words and the deeds of the successful person and the failure. But, in both cases each person is where he is and what he is because of his own mental attitude toward himself and others.

—Napoleon Hill, Houston Post, Houston, Texas, Oct. 3, 1956.

Learn how to meet temporary failure. Start off by refusing to alibi for it. Never try to place the blame on others. Examine the situation--and yourself--critically and objectively--to determine what you did that was in error. Then correct the mistake and start off anew! Don't fear defeat. It may reveal to you powers you didn't know you possessed.

—Napoleon Hill, Houston Post, Houston, Texas, Nov. 19, 1956.

Failures are those who try to weave the woof of the future with only the threads of yesterday. Success is bred when yesterday's worn and faded strands are brightened by the golden threads of imagination, courage and initiative.

—W.A. MacKenzie, Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, Fla., Dec 11, 1924.

The real test of character is what a man does after he fails. What will he do next? What resources, what inventiveness, will his failure arouse in him? Will it discover new sources of power, will it bring out reserves, double his determination, or will it dishearten him? This is the test of your manhood. How much is there left in you after you have failed in your undertaking and have lost everything outside of yourself? If you lie down then, throw up your hands and acknowledge yourself beaten, you are not made of the stuff that wins.

—Orison Swett Marden, The Chicago Daily News, Chicago, Ill., Jan. 2, 1918.

You can always spot a failure. He sits around today wishing it were tomorrow.

—Olin Miller, Daily Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss., Nov. 8, 1935.

An explanation of failure may get a running start, but it rarely gets by the final score.

—Grantland Rice, New York Tribune, New York, N.Y., Nov. 29, 1923.

Failure must be forgotten. Failure is a universal experience although it is not as conspicuous in some lives as others. It can be one of life's best teachers, though it is a stern pedagogue. Once failure's lessons have been learned, the experience should be put out of the mind.

—Bill G. West, Baptist Message, Alexandria, La., Aug. 29, 1963.

The difference between achievement and failure is whether the spirit is "Let's go" or "Let go."

Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, May 8, 1934.

Some men explain their failures so eloquently they couldn't bear to be without failures to explain.

Utah Farmer, Salt Lake City, Utah, March 10, 1937.


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