“If you set out to fail, and you succeed, which have you done?”

I first read – and chuckled at – that question long ago when I saw it on one of those lists that get circulated by email on a regular basis. I thought about it again after writing last week’s column about failure being a prerequisite of success. After all, few – if any – ventures or adventures succeed on the first try, and sometimes we need a reminder that we shouldn’t get frustrated or discouraged when something we try fails. And we absolutely shouldn’t give up or consider ourselves or our efforts as failures.

That column resonated with a lot of people, and I heard from several who talked about “failures” in their own lives, including a very good friend who told me that she fails every day. But those failures always turn into success, sometimes in the form of new discoveries and insights, and other times in big breakthroughs.

I also heard from people who appreciated the column and were planning to share it with other friends or relatives. I’m assuming it’s with people who have experienced a setback or disappointment in their own lives and who might benefit from the reminder that they’re not alone – and that they’re actually on the path to success, as long as they don’t give up, and as long as they learn from whatever went wrong.

In the Dream Coaching that I do, there’s an entire session about failure leading to success, and about how to turn weaknesses into strengths and to benefit from the lessons our failures can teach us – because there’s no doubt that they do teach us valuable lessons that can lead to success. In fact, if I had to break success down into a simple formula, it would be this: Try, fail, learn. Try something else, fail, learn. Repeat. Succeed.

The “something else” doesn’t necessarily mean going back to Square One and starting over. It may mean just a tweak, or a slight shift. Sometimes it does require going back to Square One, but that still doesn’t make it a failure.

I received a newsletter a few days ago that included a story from photographer Mary Ann Halpin about a meeting that changed her life. She was an actress, singer, and dancer, and was meeting with a vice president at the William Morris Agency in Beverly Hills. Although she was hoping the talent agency would represent her as a performer, she discovered that the agent was impressed with the photos she took of one of the actresses he already represented.

He raved so much about her photography that Mary Ann decided to redirect her career and be the person behind the camera instead of in front of it. She is now a highly-acclaimed photographer who has photographed celebrities, executives, artists, musicians, families and more. She has published four “Fearless Women” books, founded Fearless Women Global, and continues to enjoy the work she does and the photos she creates. And she’s never looked back or regretted her decision.

Always remember that initial failures – or things that may seem at the time like failures – will often lead to more success than you ever dreamed possible. So never be afraid to try. Never be afraid to fail. And never fail to appreciate how much you’ll accomplish as a result.


©Betty Liedtke, 2012

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