Triple Your Rate of Failure and You Might Succeed

Note from Jonathan: This is the first ever guest post on Illuminated Mind. For a long time, I didn’t accept guest posts because people often don’t match the content theme for this blog. But I think Justin did a great job of fitting the groove here.

Please give Justin a warm welcome. I think you’ll like what he has to say. It’s an important message.

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What are you afraid of failing at?

Taking risks, doing things that are outside your comfort zone, or making mistakes? You’ve heard the question “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” Well, writer and business man, Og Mandino, did this question one better. When he was asked what the secret of success was, he replied, “You should triple your rate of failure.”

What could you get from trying to fail?

  • You learn. You get a direct insight that is going to stay with you better than reading any blog post. This can be even more effective if you keep a record of what caused you to fail.
  • You get through it. Every time you fail, you learn a little more about what you can take. You learn more about who you are, and what you’ve got in you. You realize, “Yes, I can get through this. I’ve survived this and now I’m ready for more.” You know the future is going to be awesome.
  • You get perspective. Most of the things you worry about happening will never happen. It’s like being afraid to look under the bed with a flashlight because you are scared of what may get you. If you look anyway, to your utter disbelief you find … the cat. Sure, something is going to happen when you try, but when you actually try to fail, you will find that even messing up is almost never as bad as you think it is.
  • You stop worrying about what others think. You are trying to do all the things that you thought meant failing. What is someone else going to say to stop you, “you might fail”? You are now free to say, “du-uh”!

What about tripling your rate of failure?

If you want to triple it, you can’t afford to stay down. You fail, get up, and you do it again. You keep trying to fail, until you get so good at it that you miss the mark. Then, when you fail at failing, you’ve just made the mistake of succeeding. Oh well, can’t win ‘em all.

So what are the best ways to fail?

  • Make sure you do the things you want to do. As awesome as it is to go against the flow … make sure that it’s your flow that you go with. If you go with everything that every other rebel does, then it’s just as bad as if you followed the mainstream. Listen to your own voice.
  • Look for where the risk of not trying is higher than the risk of failing. You only have one life to live, and it’s not going to live itself without you. Do not go to the end of your life without making sure that you didn’t waste it!
  • Always get up and try again. Commit to following through. It is going to take time to fail as many times as you need to. If every time you fail, you get back up, you will just keep getting a little better.

It’s always possible to fail, so why fight it? Run head first at the things you were afraid of failing at. People learn best through trial and error.

Make the errors.

There will never be a time when you know that you won’t fail. So what? Instead of trying to trick your mind into thinking that failure is impossible, embrace the possibility of failure. It’s just not worth living your life in fear of failing.

So, I dare you to try to fail.

You just might make the mistake of succeeding.

About the author: JS Dixon is a personal development blogger at AlittleBetter.net. His blog focuses on personal development a little bit at a time.

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Comment & Add Your Voice

Leslie, The Freebie Guy September 10, 2009 at 11:07 am

Great article. This is the first time I’ve been to this blog and I’m very impressed. I definitely agree with what Justin had to say.

I always say – “Life is a game. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you Learn”. It’s all about taking action, and with taking action, you will fail sometimes (unless you are God, lol).

Every successful person that I’ve spoken to seem to have the same story. They tried many things and failed at many things. BUT, the difference between those people and everyone else is that they learned from their failures and became better as a result.

Thanks for the post and I’ll be checking back regularly.

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Karlil September 10, 2009 at 11:07 am

Brilliant post JS. Everyone who are afraid of failing should read this. For me personally, I don’t believe in the word failure. You ain’t dead yet. How can you fail then? There’s only setbacks. No biggie :)

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CouldBFree September 10, 2009 at 11:41 am

If you try to fail and do, then isn’t that a success?

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Dayne from TheHappySelf.com September 10, 2009 at 11:50 am

It really is simple…

The more you fail, the more you are likely to then SUCCEED.

If you don’t fail, you don’t every try.

Cheers,
Dayne

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Oscar - freestyle mind September 10, 2009 at 11:55 am

Awesome article Justing. Doubling (or in this case tripling) our failure rate is one of the quotes I like the most.

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Zainab September 10, 2009 at 12:42 pm

This is a really profound post. It really resonated with me, as I’m currently moving out of my comfort zone and needing to decide how far away to go! I guess it means I should choose the place I have the most possibility of failing in, but its also fierce scary to consciously set yourself up for failure (and a possibility of success)!

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Justin September 10, 2009 at 1:22 pm

@Oscar the quote had actually been on my mind for at least a week before I started writing this.

@Zainab I know what you mean on that being scary. I just quit a job of three years and moved to a place where I only know one person, in order to start moving forward.

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Robert September 10, 2009 at 1:35 pm

Great points! It’s ironic this is coming at me from all angles lately, that perspective is almost like a magic key to unlocking opportunity.

Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.
Dale Carnegie

Failure gives us perspective, and perspective I dare say creates courage. It may not eliminate fear, but it enables us to run head first into things knowing we’ll be the better for it. Good stuff. I just mentioned something similar to this on my blog.

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Jaysen Elliott September 10, 2009 at 2:14 pm

Welcome to Illuminated Mind Justin… Great post! Thanks for the insight. I’ve Tweeted to get this out to my peeps as well.

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Matt September 10, 2009 at 2:20 pm

I think this one really hits home. I’ve read so many posts and articles about motivation, but I think this covers everything in concept. It’s about making steps forward, falling back, but continuing to make steps. When you don’t pursue something because failure is possible or likely, you are deciding to not take any steps at all, and I think that’s where I’ve stood for a long time.

It’s time to start making steps.

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Coach J September 10, 2009 at 2:36 pm

For the longest time, failure was absolutely terrifying. I was held to slightly ridiculous standards growing up and failure was simply not an option. It’s only recently that I’ve learned just how important failing really is and that it is NOT the end of the world if I happen to fail here or there. As long as I learn from those failures, they’re never a waste of time or resources.

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Michaelf September 10, 2009 at 3:14 pm

Gotta love that “do it, do it, do it”. As a newbie blogger it’s easy to spend too much time thinking and too little writing content. You just can’t fake the knowledge gained from experience. Long term I find it hard to stick to this though, it’s so easy to get self conscious about it all oh woe is me in one of those ruts now thankfully I think this post might have given me the kick in the nuts I needed.

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steve [i dance for ten years right now] September 10, 2009 at 5:52 pm

this is a wonderful idea.. amusing but very powerful i think. thank you both for facilitating & delivering this content

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Diggy - Upgradereality.com September 11, 2009 at 12:41 am

Hey!
Great post, short but sweet!

I personally love this quote from Michael Jordan:

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. ”

Cheers Justin!
Diggy

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Faramarz - Anxious Candy September 11, 2009 at 12:47 am

While failing is a good way to learn and grow prolonged failure is something you want to avoid. It’s important to develop the sensory acuity to learn from your failures and to use them as stepping stones to greater success. Failing is also a good way to move forward because basically it means that you are going out and trying things more often which will always give you a greater chance of success anyway.

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Tristan Lee September 11, 2009 at 3:11 am

Hey Justin. Great points you have there. The more you fail, the more chances you have at succeeding. In fact, every time you fail, it can also be seen as a success because now you know what not to do.

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emily-sarah September 11, 2009 at 7:49 am

Great inaugural guest post, Justin (and great choice, Jonathan)! Maybe we should change the old quote to “If at first you don’t succeed, fail, fail again.” Seriously, this post is an important reminder about the law of averages and the lessons brought by trying and failing (versus sitting doing nothing ’cause we’re afraid).

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jonathanfigaro September 11, 2009 at 8:34 am

Great post. Failure equal success. I leaves you wanted to prove yourself and see that you can succeed. Personally i love failure, it maes me better and build character. Also it develops thick skin.

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Eli Simpson from EpicDoo.com September 11, 2009 at 9:55 am

Another benefit of being fearless and facing the possibility of failure is that you will fast begin to learn wisdom. You will begin to know what the voice inside/inner self/wisdom/God/genius is telling you, instead of focusing on your own insecurities. Great post!

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lovelyn September 11, 2009 at 3:06 pm

Great guest post! Success through failure, I love it! It’s something that I’ve been doing recently. I’ve been sticking my neck out more and trying new things. It’s true that it helps you figure out what you want and stop caring about what others think.

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beth vendryes williams September 12, 2009 at 2:58 am

I love the focus on “embracing the possibility of failure”.I think that another way of looking at this is that life is a process and each time we make a mistake or “fail” to achieve our goals, it is an opportunity to learn something new.So failure can help you to transform yourself! Good insight, Justin!

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Ian | Quantum Learning September 12, 2009 at 3:02 am

Love the post. If I’m honest with myself I hold back from action because I’m afraid of failing – or rather how I don’t like how I feel when I fail. So I guess the answer is to learn to enjoy failing almost as much as not failing.

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Dusan Vlahovic September 12, 2009 at 7:05 pm

Great post Justin! i embrace failure because it’s the only way to take a risk and suceed.

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yuro September 13, 2009 at 6:29 am

Disagree with tripling your failure…

The point in success through failure is learning from your failure and not about how many your failure are…

There is no point in failing many times if you don’t learn anything, if you keep doing the thing in the same way that makes you fail in the first place.

If you can fail only once and learn from it and do it in different way, isn’t that much better than you need to fail three times more only to do your mistakes again??

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Justin-Alittlebetter.net September 13, 2009 at 10:29 am

@Yuro You are right, if you can learn the first time that is definitely better.

The point of tripling your rate of failures, is not necessarily to actually fail, but to try more risky things, more often. To move outside of your comfort zone. The point of tripling came from the quote of a man who was successful enough to show that he knew what he was talking about.

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essenzzo September 13, 2009 at 11:29 am

In simple words.
I like this article… :)

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Krishna September 13, 2009 at 11:20 pm

This is a wonderful perspective, a great illustration of re-framing things to help you succeed. And this is also, I believe the scientists perspective, its not a failure if I learn from it and know one more way which doesn’t work :-).

Have you read Eli Goldratt, his latest book “The Choice” explores this, though from a business perspective…

Enjoyed reading this!

Cheers,
Krishna

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Klaus Tol September 14, 2009 at 2:29 am

Hi Justin,

Great article !!!

I needed this one today. Everyone needs a reminder once in a while.

I love the phrase: “You keep trying to fail, until you get so good at it that you miss the mark. Then, when you fail at failing, you’ve just made the mistake of succeeding.”

Brilliant!

Keep up the good work.

Klaus Tol

Guitar Habits

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farouk September 14, 2009 at 5:03 am

very original article, thanks for presenting the idea in that nice way

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Kilanko Seun September 14, 2009 at 6:56 pm

Yeah! All you have said here is true! You’ve got to be able to take some risks to get to your dream. The road to success is littered with so many failures and it takes courage and persistent to thread it to the end.
Lovely post!

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Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome September 15, 2009 at 10:28 am

I like the idea of tripling failure because it equates to more action and the only way to succeed is to act.

I love the idea behind your blog so I’m off to check it out!

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I TAKE OFF THE MASK September 16, 2009 at 6:27 am

Some people never want to fail, and that is why they don’t succeed either. Great post! ;-)

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Ken Kurosawa September 16, 2009 at 1:49 pm

We’ll never know until we try. If we fail, we need to learn from it and improve ourselves for the next try!

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Joe September 24, 2009 at 5:04 am

The only people who have never failed are those who never tried. This is so true. Failure makes you stronger and more able to deal with future challenges.
Another fantastic post!

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Boris September 24, 2009 at 5:41 pm

Justin,

I like the idea of trying something until failing: failing one, two and even three times…
Now, if you are able to enjoy the whole process, then you are succeeding for sure…
Best regards,
Boris from read-y.com

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Marcus September 25, 2009 at 5:25 pm

It is amazing how the universe will give you exactly what you need when you stop saying “I cant” and start saying “How can I”? Great post Justin.

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David A. Kennedy September 26, 2009 at 9:13 am

Hi Justin,

Love this post. Failure is life’s best teacher if you let it, I like to say. Maybe this will inspire some people to let it teach them.

I always try to keep my own words about failure in mind, and this is a great reminder to do so.

I especially appreciate the words “Make sure you do the things you want to do.” So many of us, including myself, forget that. If we want to create totally free and inspiring stories for ourselves, we HAVE to do remember this and DO it.

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Shane September 27, 2009 at 4:00 am

Good post, and I agree that faliure is absolutely essential to success.
I’ve often wondered how or when we learn that faliure is supposed to be a bad thing. I know that I usually leran the most by trial and error (and that’s a lot of error we’re talking about).

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bretthimself September 28, 2009 at 1:53 pm

This post blew me away and reminded me (ironically enough; sorry Jon!) to subscribe to IM.

It’s so simple, yet so profound: the reason why we don’t succeed is that we don’t try enough because we’re afraid of failure. Then, when we finally do muster up the courage to try, we end up failing because we adopt a “play to not lose” rather than a “play to win” mentality. This post teaches us to just dive in, and not care a bit about outcome.

Excellent, excellent post.

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Nate September 29, 2009 at 6:39 pm

Awesome post.

Too many people are afraid of failure. Fear holds us back from living the life we should lead. Instead, the majority of the world follow the safe route.

Go to school.
Get a nice, safe job with good benefits.
Work, work and more work.
Pay $100K for some advanced degree (optional)
More work.
Retire.

Why not live unconventionally? Have that inkling to start your own business? Take some action and do it!

The most successful people in the world faced tremendous failures in their lives. Look at Abraham Lincoln as a prime example of this. It’s the ability to overcome failures and keep going that creates success.

Winston Churchill said:

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”

Well said! Strive for failure! It means you’re learning. It means you’re human. It means you’re living your life to the fullest.

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Joe October 2, 2009 at 6:48 am

The only people who never fail never tried anything! This is so true! If only people were less afraid of failure and realised that they must fail in order to succeed!

The only real failure is to never try!

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Marshall Jones Jr. October 4, 2009 at 12:28 am

I think this might be the first time I’ve ever commented here, although I’ve followed this blog on and off for over a year now (I think it’s over a year – when did you, Jonathon, start posting at Zen Habits?). Anyway, this post is fan-freakin’-tastic.

I read a lot that I like, but this changed some of my goals. I’m actually lived differently since reading this post. Thanks for allowing this guest post.

Here’s to failing big.

(By the way, I’ve heard of failing big from a ton of other writers, but for whatever reason, this post tipped the scale for me. Perhaps it was the measurableness of it – “triple your failure” is more measurable than “failure bigger”.)

Marshall Jones Jr.
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quatro October 4, 2009 at 4:46 am

personally.. i agree on getting out of comfort zone because this is a learning process… great post Justin.. this is one radical move,

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Arsalan October 5, 2009 at 10:23 pm

I am sorry that I didn’t read the rest of the comments, anyway, this took me about three days to finish, of fear that I might not like it lol, I find myself stupid, now I take your dare to fail (hence the fear)

I hate you, but you rock!

keep on rocking!
Arsalan

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Seun Kilanko October 7, 2009 at 8:28 am

I think I need to add this again: Successful people know that failure is part of the learning process. Now, if that is the case, why are some of us scared of failure? Failure is just meant to simply push us forward.

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Fahad Khan March 1, 2011 at 5:22 am

Hi Justin,

Loved it. It was simply awesome. I couldn’t agree more with what you wrote and the insights of Og Mangdino.

Very refreshing and simply brilliant.

Keep up the good work. Love your site.

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Maggie Reyes April 2, 2013 at 8:21 pm

I love this article! I was just talking about failure this week! One of my favorite movies is the kids movie, Meet the Robinsons, it has the *best* perspective on failure ever – celebrate it!

Here is the link to a scene that is less than 2 minutes long but makes me smile every time I see it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNXr5Alytg4

“From failing you learn. From success, not so much.” – Meet the Robinsons.

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