Failure is the Path to Success

Gaining Control

One of things I often hear mentioned is that we have no control over our lives. And this is quite true: we are not really in control of anything. Initially, we may feel that we can influence certain outcomes. But in fact what we are doing is temporarily trying to alter the natural course of life. We are, in effect, trying to play God. And although this may seem to work up to a certain point, the end result is often a life crisis. This crisis has the effect of disrupting everything that we have spent so much energy trying to build.

This doesn’t mean that we have control over “nothing” or that life is pointless. On the contrary, there is something that we do have control over. We have control over how we choose to react to life. Initially, this may not seem to be all that important. But in fact, it is of the utmost importance. Although it seems contradictory to what was mentioned above, it must be realized that how you react to situations in life will completely change how your life turns out.

Pursuing Your Dream

Let’s look at a concrete example. Suppose that you are just completing school, and you find a listing for what you consider to be your dream job. Not only that, but it is with a company that you always dreamed of working for. But you see that you don’t meet some of the job requirements.

At this point, you have two options. Certainly, you could decide to apply for the job, or you could decide not to apply. But it’s not the physical reaction that is important, it is the mental reaction. Note the different possible reactions in the mind even before anything has actually been done:

Reaction #1: I don’t think I could get the job, so I don’t know why I should even apply. I’ll do it anyway, because I really want the job. But there is no way I will get it.

Reaction #2: Oh wow, it would be awesome if I got this job! I’m going to put together a great resume and apply. I’ll make sure to address the lack of experience, and I’ll just hope for the best.


#1:In the first scenario, you are not going to get the job. You didn’t even really try, and you didn’t meet the qualifications anyway.

#2: In the second case, you don’t get the job. You didn’t qualify, so you weren’t hired. That’s life.

But this is the critical point. The initial reactions above are going to influence what happens next, which – once again – is our choice of reaction.

In the first scenario, the person is likely to just shrug and give the “well, I told you so” attitude to himself. And this situation will just keep on repeating, with such a person believing that it isn’t ever worth “trying” because you can never get what you want anyway.

In the second scenario, the person will also react with disappointment. But what is important is that this person will also learn from the experience. He will take the wisdom and lessons learned from this experience in order to have a greater chance of succeeding in the “next round”

True story:

London Lamar is the youngest black woman lawmaker in the state of Tennessee by more than 30 years. At the age of 23, she ran for office and lost by a large margin. Over the next few years, she acquired knowledge of key political issues, and used previous campaigning experience to formulate a successful strategy in the 2018 election.[1] Her reaction to her defeat: to learn from it in order to succeed.

There is no such thing as failure

In reality, there is no such thing as failure. Without “failure”, success would not be possible. It is our “failures” that allow us to be successful.

Think about it this way: if we were to succeed on our first try to get something that we really wanted, we wouldn’t know what it was that was the “key to success”. Therefore, we wouldn’t know what to do to repeat our success. But if meet all failures as lessons that teach us how to be successful, we will no longer have to guess how to be successful.

The only true failure in life is to stop trying because of a fear of failure. This is why our reactions to any situation are so necessary. They have the power to limit us, and they also have the power to set us free.


[1]Branigin, Anne. “What Tennessee—and the Country—Can Learn from London Lamar, the State’s Youngest Black Woman Lawmaker” The Root. Accessed 29 Mar 2019.