Successfully Failing


“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
– Thomas A. Edison

Nobody likes to fail. While we do fail from time to time it still is hard to take. But if we’re honest we understand there is no success without some amount of failure. So is it possible that there is such a thing as a successful failure?Fail Successfully

J.K. Rowling, of Harry Potter fame, offered the following encouragements as she spoke to the graduating class of Harvard in June of 2008.

She knew failure – “You might never fail on the scale I did,” Rowling told that privileged audience. “But it is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default”

She likely knows. Her biographer describes that – “Penniless, recently divorced, and raising a child on her own, she set out to write the first Harry Potter book with the aid of an old manual typewriter.”

The results – Twelve publishers rejected the manuscript!

He continues “A year later she was given the green light by Barry Cunningham from Bloomsbury, who agreed to publish the book but insisted she get a day job because there was no money in children’s books.” The only reason it got published at all was because the CEO’s eight year old daughter begged him to publish it. And Rowling stands as only one example of famous failures.

The truth is we never really know the strength and enduring nature of our character and relationships, until both have been pulled, challenged and tested by failure.

A great number of people when faced with failure for the first time, try desperately to move away and distance themselves. Whether it’s  unemployment, the loss of investment income or any other adversity – it happens!

The key is what we take away, and what we remember. It is the taste of loss and the reminder of mistakes that fuel the will to improve and continually be overcoming failure.

So – fail sometimes? – Lesson learned


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After 20 years of progressive leadership within the Canadian Public Service, as an executive and thought leader, Bruce has turned his attention to full time writing, speaking, training and business advisory services. Focusing his work on his long term passion for leadership development, has led to an ongoing focus on exploring current leadership topics through his leadership blog, and his newly released book - Leadership Hack: Leading the Millennial Tribe. Bruce holds two masters degrees, along with a professional designation in project management. Bruce calls Ottawa, Ontario Canada home, where he shares his life with his wife Susan, and his two university aged daughters.

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