Too Afraid to Fail? 3 Things to Learn from Icons Who Have Been Down that Road

Image by: Tomasz Stasiuk
By: Giovanni Fields

Anybody who has ever been successful at anything will emphasize to you the dire importance of failing. Yea, I know what you’re thinking: failure isn’t a good thing! But when you think about it strategically, failure is the reason as to why success stories are birthed. Without failure we wouldn’t be able to learn and capitalize on our mistakes.

The fact is, that successful people have even more failures under their belt than the average Joe because he was willing to brush the sting off quicker and easier, whereas the average Joe would dwell on his mistake too long and lose the inspiration and energy to forge ahead.

Failure can be devastating yes, but you will be able to sleep well at night knowing you at least made a plunge for something you believed in. Failure essentially breaks the defense barriers that you place around yourself before striving to achieve something. It sends you into orbit around the planet that is your goal and allows you to do what is necessary to achieve something–so as long as you don’t go crying home to mommy after you fail.

The strong are strong because they were able to withstand harsh conditions. Rejection is indeed a harsh condition, but if you’re able to shake it off and proceed undeterred then you may be surprised with what you can achieve.

#1) “I can Accept Failure, but I can’t Accept not Trying”

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed,” Michael Jordan said, a man who actively believes the way to achieve success is through failure.

Jordan, as we all might know, is arguably the best basketball player in history, and how did he accomplish such a feat? Through, as he said, failing over and over and over again. But he wasn’t always at the top of the food chain, the retired professional, as a sophomore in high school was cut from his school`s varsity basketball team.

Of course the news was devastating for him to swallow at the moment, but years later he’d claimed that it was a good thing he was cut, because it made him realize what disappointment felt like–and he confirmed that he never wanted to bear that burden again. As most professional athletes are gifted and issued natural talent from birth, Michael Jordan’s story says a lot about the value of failing. Failure made him into legend he is today, and without it, he could’ve just been another average Joe.

2) “Success is a Lousy Teacher. It Seduces Smart People into Thinking They can’t Lose”

Before Bill Gates was a billionaire, he was a Harvard University drop-out and the co-owner of a failed business called Traf-O-Data. Shocking huh? The richest guy in America had to endure some hardships to get where he is today. Personally, I find it quite reassuring that a man of his caliber disliked school just as much as me.

“It is strange to call me a college drop out in all but the most literal sense. I went for three years and took enough courses to graduate,” Gates said in a response to a question about the impact higher education had on his success during a meeting of his. “So I am kind of a failure as a drop out and I don’t have a degree …”

Driven by his innate passion for computer programming, regardless of his lack of a formal degree, went on to build the worlds largest software company, becoming a billionaire at the precocious age of 31. Other notable tech executives who share a similar dop-out story as him include Mark Zuckerburg and Steve Jobs. If they can all drop out and catapult into the billionaire lifestyle, then why can’t you?

3) Persistence

“We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.” These were the words of a naive publisher who rejected Stephen Kings’ first manuscript–Carrie. And in case you’re wondering, this publisher wasn’t the only one who had negative feelings toward his works, as his novel was rejected over 30 times before finally being published.

Before his final attempt–which would later prove to be surprisingly fruitful–he had gotten discouraged about accumulating rejections and tossed the manuscript in his trash bin. He’d found stardom once his wife retrieved it, dusted it off and urged him to resubmit it one last time, for good luck–and the rest is history.

At age 27 Stephen King lived crammed in a double wide trailer with his wife and two young kids, using a shabby Buick that was held together with duct tape and bailing wire as his daily driver. To make ends meet he worked summers at an industrial laundry company and evenings as a gas pump attendant and janitor–and with all his meager duties, time to write was few and far between. He claimed he couldn’t even afford his own typewriter, and had to use his wife’s to indulge himself.

The moral of this story is, even though he had been rejected countless times by numerous different publishers he still somehow found time to exercise his passion. The initial devastation nearly destroyed him, but after making a second and final attempt, the man we know as Stephen King has grown to be one of the most notable writers in the world. Yea, I know it’s pretty inspiring… Lets all become Stephen King’s people! The world would be a lot more interesting (and scary).

Are you a failure? Don’t cry about it, use it to your advantage! Share with other failures below about different ways you plan on overcoming the devastating blow.