Success – Only an Inch away from Failure


The energy that creates great ideas also creates errors. Most truly creative and successful people have hence also had setbacks, frequently huge ones where they lost almost everything they had.

The more people I get to know and the more biographies I read, the more convinced I am that we have to be prepared to fail miserably if we are going to achieve anything worth-while in this world.

The difference between success and failure is really minute. We have to trust our instincts and try,since if we don’t, there is no way we will ever succeed.

If we never fail it means that our goal wasn’t big enough. And if the goal isn’t big enough there is no risk involved. Trying out safe ideas are neither creative nor innovative and no biography will be written about you if that’s how you lead your life.

Creativity can be described as letting go of certainties, someone once said and that is so true since the only thing that’s certain in life is that there are no certainties. So it depends on what you want out of life. Or as George Bernard Shaw put it: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world – the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man”.

(Photo: David Hartman – Photo Xpress)

128 responses

  1. You learn from failure, but it isn't fun, especially if it's not self-inflicted. By that I mean that you may be doing a great job in an organization, but the CEO doesn't like you (or has a friend he wants to insert into your position) and you're fired. That's considered a failure — why didn't I see it coming? What could I have done to prevent it? If you experience failure, it's OK to take a little time to grieve. But then you've got to move on.
    My recent post Is This a New Trend – the Public Firing of Employees?

  2. Failure only really stings if we flatter ourselves about our own importance. Neither our greatest success nor worst failure graces more than one or two breakfast conversations of others, and then only briefly. Much, if not most of life is random, and we waste incredible energy fearcasting. Life's a lottery; you've got to play, otherwise it's no fun.

  3. Great post Caterina.

    Most give up at the first sign of resistence or failure, but achievers tie themselves to the mast and course correct their way towards their vision. That's why so few achieve the remarkable.

    What a waste – all those others with so much talent, so many good ideas, condeming themselves to follow the "safe" rat runs that worked in the past. Sadly for them, that safety is a mirage as the world changes continuously and makes those rat runs obselescent.

  4. Absolutely – there is only a small difference between success and failure. My own experience in this area comes from a round the world rock tour that I tried to rescue with some success. My mistake was getting involved when it was too late to rescue it.

  5. Oh yes…just a hair's difference between success and failure and both require risk. Safe is cozy, many folks still achieve success while wrapped in that blanket and that shouldn't be minimized either. After all, success is wildly different for everyone. But the big guns, the true innovators, are definitely the big risk takers and as you mention, they've all stumbled on the way up.

    • Yes, Henry Ford is a great example. He lost everything he had at least once before succeeding, Jacqueline. Can't remember the exact number of times he lost everything but it was more than once. And today he's known as a huge success. Proves how close success is to failure. If we give up after failing we will fail.

  6. Catarina, I love this. I’m working on a big project right now and it is super scary. There is a huge risk for failure. But, there is also the very real possibility of success. I tell myself all the time that if I’m not risking failure, I’m doing something wrong. I’m going to come back to this post when I’m needing a little encouragement to risk failure to find success.

    • Glad this was timely for your, Erica. Don't forget that there's a difference between someone with an entrepreneurial mind. i.e. willing to take huge risks and people merely carrying out entrepreneurial activity. The latter anyone can do but taking huge risks is a huge risk and you need an entrepreneurial mind to do so. I have failed enormously in life but I get back on my feet again. Same with my father. Entrepreneurial minds we actually inherit. Am not going to say go for the big project because that's a decision only you can take.

  7. The George Bernard Shaw quote is a favorite of mine. I imagine that there are not many, if any, successful people who have not failed at some point

  8. Catarine – you are right on. I have a saying tacked up that “If you’ve never failed, you’ve never tried”. I’ve always believed that, But what happens after you’ve failed is also important – some who failed never try again while others pick themselves up and try again.

  9. Interesting post as one can expect from you, Catarina.

    I like this point;
    Trying out safe ideas are neither creative nor innovative and no biography will be written about you if that’s how you lead your life.

    People play safe as it is a guarantee that they will reach their goal. Going outside of the box is risky and meeting the goal is not guaranteed in any shape or form.

    This has encouraged me.

  10. Well said. I’m never sure if the thing most people are afraid of is failure or success. The two are so closely intertwined its sometimes hard to tell them apart.

    • Mainly failure, in my opinion. Don't forget that in this article we are talking huge failures if things go wrong. Only a small amount of people can handle taking such risks. Fear of success I believe is mainly a Western phenomena i.e. if they succeed they will have to work more than they want to or something similar. Look at the regugees marching throught Europe at the moment they are definitely not afraid of success only failure. There would not be a single person left in UNHCR's refugee camps in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan if people had not been afraid of failure.

  11. Hi Catarina: Yes, the most important lesson we all need to learn is that we have to START a project in order to succeed, and we have to TRY and make it successful in order for it to happen. Cheers!

  12. Failure and success is only a breath away from each other. I also believe that success and failure, sometimes does not have to do with the persons capabilities, unfortunately it is only timing. A few minutes, weeks, months can make a difference between succeeding and failing.
    I do think the higher we try to touch the sky, the harder we fall down. But it is that striving, for that one time that the universe is in order, and we finally succeed, makes all the previous falls mean nothing/

  13. Great post, Catarina. Everyone fails at some point, but it’s is how you chose to deal with that failure that is important. My thought has always been to use my failure as opportunities to learning and not let failure dictate what I do next. It helps us grow and try harder the next time. :)

  14. This post makes me think about what's happening more and more in the USA Catarina. Adults want to find ways to make – the losing team feel better about losing, their children get rewarded for coming in last place for trying, and more. It's quite a phoenomena to watch. As I read your post I zeroed in on this, "If we never fail it means that our goal wasn’t big enough."

    We are no longer allowing our children to know failure. So if we don't know failure, it seems we will more and more set a low bar for achievement. It can make a person sad, or crazy!

    My recent post Staying focused, brain on technology, smell the roses, introvert in graphs #Blog Round-up from #introvert inspirer

    • Interesting, Patricia. It's probably necessary in order to assure they make an effort even when they are not sure they will succeed. Scary as it can be if we don't try something that may fail we will never succeed and develop. That's life:-)

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