Failure: The Pathway to Success

Failure: The Pathway to Success August 30, 2018

“Failure and success are polar opposites.”

Right?  Isn’t this how most of us think?  Failures, we reason, are painted black while successes are painted white.  They are two diverse paths; paths that will not and cannot intersect.  But we are wrong.

Success, I believe, never happens without passing through the path of failure.  Consider:

  • Before Lucille Ball became famous for “I Love Lucy”, she was dismissed from drama school for being too quiet and shy.
  • Albert Einstein did poorly in elementary school and failed his first college entrance exam.
  • Henry Ford went broke five times before achieving success.
  • Clint Eastwood was once told by a University Pictures executive that his future as an actor was not promising. The man said, “You have a chip on your tooth, your Adam’s apple sticks out too far, and you talk too slow.”

How about you? The question isn’t whether we will fail… we all do. The challenge is to examine the failure, learn from it and move on. Can you do that? Do you do that? If we will start viewing our failures as opportunities, I am certain that we will be able to look back some day and realize that we needed those failures to guide us, force us to re-prioritize our values, assess our strong points and move ahead.

Laying the groundwork

Not everyone turns failures into opportunities. Why? It is quite possible they put all of life’s eggs into the basket of career. We would do well to seed success in several areas of our lives – think “diversification”. Here are some examples:


No time management is more important than time with your spouse.  Be intentional by blocking out together time in your schedules. Plan and keep dates. Say, “I love you.”


When circumstances or people hurt you, allow yourself to experience the emotions instead of internalizing them. Be quick to ask for forgiveness and anxious to grant forgiveness.


No surprises here: eat healthy food and exercise.

Personal Finance

Whatever your financial status, don’t settle for it. Always be working on and executing a plan to create financial peace.

Spiritual Growth

Spend time every day in prayer and Bible reading. Keeping a close relationship with the Maker of the Universe will keep failures in their proper perspective.

How do I turn this failure into success?

Change your language

Say Opportunity instead of Failure.


Perform an autopsy on your failure so you can learn exactly why it failed. The oft quoted story is that Thomas Edison, after trying thousands of experiments to refine the incandescent light bulb, was asked by a young reporter, “Mr. Edison, how does it feel to have failed 5000 times?” Edison answered, “Young man, I haven’t failed 5000 times. I have discovered 5000 techniques that don’t work.” If you learn what not to do, next time you will not repeat that mistake.

Don’t be afraid of another failure

Fear of failure will paralyze you. But realizing that failure is a passageway to success will squelch that fear and motivate you to try again. Mickey Rooney said, “You always pass failure on the way to success.’

Continue to dream

When your dreams stop, your life loses its purpose. God gives you dreams for a reason: he wants them to come true. Joseph of old had dreams that he would some day rise to prominence. Before he became Prime Minister of Egypt, he was thrown into a cistern, sold into slavery, arrested and imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit and lied to by those who could help him. It took 22 years, but God worked through all these seeming detours to fulfill that dream. God has not forgotten your dreams and you shouldn’t either.


God’s plan for his son Jesus was to allow him to be executed for a crime he did not commit. For some, this would seem like a failure, but of course the death of Jesus was followed by a resurrection, and his resurrection is our promise of eternal life. This same God wants to hear your prayers and “resurrect” your failures into amazing successes.

Concluding thoughts

We all fail. How we deal with failure will determine our life course. The challenge is to see the failure as an opportunity. If you can learn from the failure, squelch your fear of trying again, continue to dream and pray, you will have come far on this journey of life: you will discover yourself.

A closing quote from Pope John XXIII: “Consult not your fears, but your hopes and dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.”

Readers: Consider the successes you have had in your life.  What failures did you experience on the pathway to those successes?

Browse Our Archives