The Failure Formula

RL09-03-2015I often think that failure is the most misunderstood element of the human condition.  Failure is not the opposite of success. Failure is, instead, part of success.

Every great invention, accomplishment, or victory is preceded by a failure or, in most cases, a series of failures. When we understand that failure is part of the success process, we then come to understand that as long as we don’t quit, failure is not final. It is simply fertilizer for future success.

I am a huge baseball fan and enjoy listening to the satellite radio broadcasts of games most every night during the baseball season. My father was, for a brief time, a Minor League baseball player, and he had the distinction of playing in a game against Mickey Mantle. This always inspired me to play and enjoy baseball. Today, as a totally blind person, I am absolutely convinced and could guarantee you that I can get a hit off of the best pitcher in the Major Leagues if you will allow me to take as many strikes as I want. As long as I keep swinging, I know that sooner or later I’m going to hit the ball and reach my goal.

We see great athletes performing on television in multiple slow-motion replays. What we don’t see are the thousands of failures that came before the success. We don’t see the stumbles and falls followed by that athlete picking themselves up, brushing themselves off, and trying again. When you only experience the gold medal competition and the victor being crowned, you miss the true essence of success which is pushing through repeated failures.

Recent research has shown that to become a world-class master of any art or task, one must practice for 10,000 hours. Most of these 10,000 hours of practice involve immediate failure, identifying mistakes, recommitting our efforts, and trying again.

In any cross-country flight, pilots tell me that the plane is off course the vast majority of the time.  After the pilot takes off and checks the heading, discovering that they have veered from their intended heading, they don’t turn around, go back to the airport where they started, land the plane, and declare the flight a failure. They simply make the necessary adjustments and get the plane back on course. In this way, a successful landing follows hundreds of slight failures and course corrections that are a part of every trip.

Don’t avoid the failure. Use it as a springboard to your success.

Today’s the day!

Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift.  He is also a columnist and motivational speaker.  He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK  74145-9082; by email at; on Twitter at; or on Facebook at

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