Fear stops us from doing a lot of things, and there are a lot of fears that are responsible for that. The biggest is the fear of failure.

            Who wants to fail after all? The word itself is scary – FAILURE. It’s depressing just to look at it, especially in all caps!

            But not only should we not fear failure, we should embrace it. The only people who never fail at anything, of course, are those who never try anything. We don’t enjoy great success at anything in life without having to deal with failures from time to time, and we all know that.

           Sure we do. However – like anything that we know that is worth knowing, we need to be reminded of it. And in the case of failure, we need to be reminded that we have to accept with it and deal it happening, but we also have to be told that we should EMBRACE failure.

            That’s right, embrace it. Not just tolerate it, not just accept, but embrace it.


          We learn more from failure than we do from success, if we look at it the right way. And sometimes our greatest successes come directly as a result of our “failures” which in retrospect, aren’t failures at all.

            The Rocket Chemical Company is a perfect example of that. In 1953, the company set up to create a water displacement formula to be used as a rust-prevention solvent and degreaser in the aerospace industry.

            They failued to do so on the first attempt. And they failed to do so for another 38 attempts as well. All in all – 39 failures! Until finally, on the 40th attempt, they found success – success that would not have been possible without the lessons learned from the pervious 39 failures.

            By the way that product is known world wide as WD-40. It’s name comes from “Water Displacement perfected on the 40th try. By 2015 the company had a $1.3 billion valuation and the product has more than 2,000 uses. Quite the failure.

           The 3M company is another example. In 1968, engineers there were attempting to come up with an ultra-strong adhesive for use in aircraft construction. Instead, a mistake led to a new adhesive called acrylate co-polymer microspheres, which was a weak, pressure-sensitive adhesive. It was a complete failure – although the developed product did have a sticking at a tangent to the surface, which meant that the sticky substance could be peeled away without leaving residue and reused. Interesting, but totally useless for aircraft.

            For 10 years the product either lay dormat, or potential uses failed in the marketplace. Until 1978, when another attempt was made to test its marketability. Finally – success!

            And the Post-It note was born. Ever hear of it?

            The same rule of failure being benefical to products applies to individuals of course. We are all familiar with the great success stories of athletes, actors and world leaders who thrived after numerous failures. This is one of our favorites – check out this person’s litany of failure:

1816: His family was forced out of their home. He had to work to support them.
1818: His mother died.
1831: Failed in business.
1832: Ran for state legislature – lost.
1832: Also lost his job – wanted to go to law school but couldn’t get in.
1833: Borrowed some money from a friend to begin a business and by the end of the year he was bankrupt. He spent the next 17 years of his life paying off this debt.
1834: Ran for state legislature again – won.
1835: Was engaged to be married, sweetheart died and his heart was broken.
1836: Had a total nervous breakdown and was in bed for six months.
1838: Sought to become speaker of the state legislature – defeated.
1840: Sought to become elector – defeated.
1843: Ran for Congress – lost.
1846: Ran for Congress again – this time he won – went to Washington and did a good job.
1848: Ran for re-election to Congress – lost.
1849 Sought the job of land officer in his home state – rejected.
1854: Ran for Senate of the United States – lost.
1856: Sought the Vice-Presidential nomination at his party’s national convention – got less than 100 votes.
1858: Ran for U.S. Senate again – again he lost.

               My heavens that’s more than enough failure for one person to endure in a lifestime! Oh, but we forgot the final line of his bio:

1860: Elected President of The United States

               Not only was Abraham Lincoln “Honest Abe” he was Persistent Abe too!

            Have you had failure in your life? Congratulations! That means you were out in the world trying to succeed. When at first you don’t succeed – you are in some pretty good company. Do not fear failure. Do not just accept it and tolerate it. EMBRACE it. Learn from it.

            That failure just might turn out to be the best thing that could have happened to you.

    Thanks for reading! Please listen to our TEAMMATES podcasts with Chris DePiero, Jim Rooney and Roger Lajoie at, and if you’d like more information about our personal coaching, email We are happy to help you discover ways to make YOUR life better with personal coaching and consulting.

            Have a great week!


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Don't just accept failure, learn to embrace it - win or learn!

Copyright © Roger Lajoie 


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