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If You Never Failed, You Never Lived!

When a baby fails to latch when breastfed, fails to keep their balance when trying to walk, or falls when learning to ride a bike, we don’t think it’s a sign they’re not worthy, or it’s not in the cards for them, or let alone that it’s shameful.

We simply know it’s part of the learning process, and babies know that too, so they keep at it until they get it right – without judgment.

But soon we learn to compare ourselves, and to look at others’ glory without knowing their story.

When we actually get curious and go past our assumptions, we understand that embracing the possibility and the presence of failure is actually a requirement for any success, and the truth is, if you never failed, you never lived.

I’ve learned that the greatest achievements in history were all made possible by a pioneers, trailblazers, inventors, explorers, creatives that did not stop believing and had the courage to pursue their dreams against all odds:

They were…

DISCOURAGED, MOCKED, RIDICULED, FIRED, DEFEATED, SCOFFED AT, TAUNTED, SHAMED, ATTACKED, BOOED, REJECTED, CAST ASIDE… but they didn’t stop believing and continued to pursue their dream!

They were labeled “STUPID”, “SLOW”, “FOOLISH”, “AWKWARD”, “IDIOT”, “UNEDUCABLE”… but they didn’t stop believing and continued to pursue their dream!

Their ideas were called “A WASTE OF TIME”, “LACKING IMAGINATION”, “NONSENSE”, “HOPELESS”, “NOT WORTH IT”… but they didn’t stop believing and continued to pursue their dream!

They FAILED, declared BANKRUPTCY, FLUNKED and FLOPPED… but they didn’t stop believing and continued to pursue their dream!

Take Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, one of the wealthiest women in the world, who dedicated her Harvard commencement address to the value of failure.

“I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless… by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.”

But the usual standards of failure are flawed.

Failing at something does not mean you are a failure.

Steve Jobs reflected on this when he said in 2005:

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.

I’ve heard it say this way: failure is not the end of the story, it’s the beginning of a comeback story.

This is true for Steve Jobs who founded PIXAR and then eventually gained back his position as CEO at Apple, the company he started in a garage.

On inventing the incandescent light bulb Thomas Edison said: “I didn’t fail 10,000 times, I just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

Oprah was fired as anchor in Baltimore’s WJZ-TV because she was supposedly too emotionally invested in news stories, and therefore labeled “unfit for television news.”

This led her to a role on a daytime TV show, People Are Talking. She says:

There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.

I always tell my daughters: rejection is redirection!

Someone’s inability to see your brilliance is not failure.

Did you know that at the age of 22, Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star (a Missouri newspaper) because he “lacked creativity and imagination and had no good ideas.”

It certainly took courage for Walt Disney to continue to pursue their dream after that prescription.

Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team and kept pursuing his dream:

I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

Thomas Edison was homeschooled because his elementary school teacher told him he was “too stupid to learn anything.

Albert Einstein who was thought to be mentally impaired because he didn’t read until age 7 and didn’t speak clearly until age 9, and was expelled from school for being rebellious tells us:

Success is failure in progress.

Most naysayers are people who are close to you, like your teacher or boss. Remember when many people couldn’t believe in Jesus even though they saw him in the flesh?

They couldn’t see pass his “carpenter’s son” identity.

Other naysayers are people who want to save you from disappointment, like your spouse, your relatives, your friends.

But imagine if they acted this way when you were learning to breastfeed, walk, or ride a bike? 

They all mean well; they are still wrong.

Rejection is not failure.

Walt Disney was rejected over 300 times by bankers who thought his idea of Mickey Mouse was ridiculous.

Theodor Seuss Geisel was rejected by publishers about 27 times before Dr. Seuss was on the shelves.

My mentor, Jack Canfield, and co-author Mark Victor Hansen, were rejected by publishers 144 times before publishing their first Chicken Soup for the Soul book.

Not having traditional credentials is not failure.

Bill Gates is a Harvard dropout whose first business failed.

There are countless wealthy high achievers who dropped out of college and even high school.

Bill Gates says:

It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.

Failure is a powerful tool to succeed, an essential part of life, and we must not lose sight of its great purpose.

Failure is a great teacher.

Through failure, we learn valuable lessons and gain perspective that we may not gain otherwise.

All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me…

You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you. ~ Walt Disney

Failure is preparation.

Failure is redirection.

Failure is feedback.

Failure is an opportunity for positive growth

Abraham Lincoln failed many times in business, in politics, and in relationships, and he teaches us:

My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.

As moms, we have the duty to learn to embrace our own failures and to teach our kids that failure is unavoidable.

Failure can happen at school, the workplace, and at home… daily… and with each failure, we have the opportunity to learn.

I teach my daughters that failing doesn’t mean they are flawed.

Giving them a safe space to fail has helped them become more successful than I’ve ever imagined, and it makes them happy because they have the desire and freedom to start, to create, to try.

That’s the thing with avoiding failure. When we avoid failure, we avoid success – we settle. We don’t say NO when greatness calls and stay stuck.

If you’ve never failed, you haven’t allowed yourself to truly live.

It’s time to start believing, to summon the courage inside you to start following your dreams.

Whether you’re going through hardship, facing adversity, doubting yourself, fighting a personal battle, or actually experiencing a failure, remember that how you react is what will set the tone for how you live.

It’s not that you discard or deny the facts, but you can discard the power of those facts to affect you, to determine who you’ll BE.

You are worth it

You are good enough

You are called and qualified

What’s standing between you and the success you desire is not failure.

Failure is actually what can get you there if you are brave enough to shed false beliefs you have about failure and success, but most importantly, your false beliefs about yourself.

What have you learned from your failures? Share with us below and schedule a complimentary strategy session with me so we can dive into how you can pursue the life of your dreams.

Elayna is a single mom of 4, an award-winning Storyteller, Story Strategist, and Student of Pain. She’s a bestselling author, internationally acclaimed keynote speaker, and 4x TEDx speaker. Founder of the Positive MOM® and creator of the S.T.O.R.Y. System: a blueprint to craft and share powerful stories that will transform your results, so you can have the wealth, opportunities, and freedom you deserve. Connect with Elayna Fernández at thepositivemom.com/keynote-speaker and follow @thepositivemom. To receive a gift from Elayna, click HERE.

Be Positive and You Will Be Powerful ~ Elayna FernandBe Positive and You Will Be Powerful ~ Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOMez ~ The Positive MOM
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How To Write A Powerful Testimonial When You're Grateful

Saturday 22nd of August 2020

[…] There are so many people who have been instrumental to my successes and crucial in my times of failure. […]

Christine G

Wednesday 18th of September 2019

I thank you for this powerful post. I really needed it today, more than anything, I needed to read this. Failure is the forward push we all need to prepare us for the successful outcome waiting for us.

Patty Moliterno

Wednesday 18th of September 2019

Elayna: From big failures to little failures, we can all learn from our past. But failing and getting back up is not failing. The only failure is giving up.

One of my biggest failures was not pursuing my dreams, but there is no time like the present!


Thursday 3rd of May 2018

It’s quite interesting to read how highly successful people who have changed the way people live have failed. I definitely have felt like I failed and although at the time all I can see is the negative affect I do believe everything happens for a reason.

Fabiola Rodriguez

Thursday 3rd of May 2018

I have learned the value the importance of failure in my life. Failure always leads to learning and success. However, it's so hard to teach this to kids. They naturally tend to see failure in a negative light because of the feelings of discouragement and disappointment that come with it. I've found it's difficult to get younger kids to handle failure in a constructive way.