The Benefits of Failure


These days, many in business face challenges perhaps not seen since the Great Depression. Failure may not be an option, but it is a specter that stalks the psyche of those who endeavor toward their goals. Most of us try hard to avoid what we consider failure, but there is no failure…IF we choose to see the value in setbacks. “Where there is fear of failure, there is failure,” said General George Patton. Article by Kelly Walker of Incyte Marketing.

Muhammad Ali said, “To be a champion, fight one more round.” JFK said, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” Having had to start over from scratch in the past, and helping countless other business owners, I understand that setbacks are prerequisites to success. Here are a few benefits we gain from “failure” that can ultimately lead to success:

  • Perseverance: A gritty determination to keep going no matter the obstacles is often what separates those who win from those who quit. As a friend of mine said that if we refuse to be beaten, then we never will be. The more we “fail,” the more perseverance we develop, and the more likely we are to find success. I love this speech Rocky Balboa gave his son in Rocky VI:

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. How much you can take, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”

  • Knowledge: One of the most valuable benefits of setbacks is the opportunity to learn and adapt. “Success can only be achieved through repeated failure and introspection,” according to Soichiro Honda, founder of Honda Motors. “The wise learn many things from their foes,” said ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes.
  • Resourcefulness: Former Navy Seal Richard Marchinko wrote that, “Mistakes are messengers, telling us that we have not yet fully understood the situation. Every mistake is an opportunity to correct the course of action…yesterday’s solutions are today’s mistakes, and today’s mistakes are tomorrow’s innovations.” Resourcefulness is knowledge and introspection put into action. It means doing things differently, and creatively adjusting your thinking and your strategies.

In parting, I want to share a portion of an email I sent to an actual client who had experienced setbacks in her family business.

“Don’t lose heart—the kind of setbacks you guys are experiencing are very common, especially in today’s market, but don’t mean that you’re done. Every successful business owner I know has found breakthrough with perseverance and resourcefulness, and by looking at ‘failures’ as a chance to learn how to do it better. Keep your head up!”

Kelly Walker, M.S., is Partner and Brand Communications Director for Incyte Marketing. For more information:


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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. •

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