We hate failing. Whether it’s failing a class, an assignment, or just failing to balance your work and relationships, failure is always a result of not getting the result we want. This can be frustrating and demoralizing.
Becoming more proficient in a skill will reduce failure rates, and practice can make perfect. But mistakes will still happen throughout our lives. Here are our favorite quotes about failure that inspire us to keep on keeping on.
“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.” Confucius
Very few people are successful at new skills or roles from day one. This quote reminds us that there is value and merit in getting back up after failing to try again.
There is a popularized “10,000-hour” thesis by Malcolm Gladwell that claims it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to learn a new skill. Josh Kaufman, author of The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything… Fast!, disagrees.
Gladwell concedes that it can take about 10,000 hours to become ultra-competitive in a skill. This is what researchers at Florida State University have found as well. However, Gladwell argues that most individuals do not aim to become competitors-they aim to complete specified projects and goals.
When it comes to failing at skills or projects, ask yourself what your goal is.
Are you aiming to become an Olympic skater? Or are you trying to learn how to make a video transition in Adobe Premiere?
While becoming an Olympian will probably be impossible without countless hours of training, anyone can learn to create video transitions with the right tools and less than 100 hours of effort.
The next time you find yourself scared to continue after initially failing at a new skill, consider your ultimate goal. You don’t have to be a one-in-a-million talent to succeed, little by little, by trying once more.
“Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Samuel Beckett
Simple, but effective. Samuel Beckett was a novelist and translator, who wrote in both French and English. This quote can seem like an empty motivator until we get to the last two words, “fail better.”
“Fail better,” provides the context that progress should and can only be made with multiple failed attempts. Next time you are tackling a difficult task, consider keeping notes on your failures while reframing them as learning points.
Did you code something that didn’t run at completion? What kind of logic did you apply to write the code? Is there another way to write it using the same logic, but in a different format? If not, what alternative line of logic can you test in your next draft?
These questions are commonly used to problem solve but seldom written down during the process. By writing down roadblocks when you encounter them, you can help refocus your effort on your next step. This will also help you cultivate a growth mindset.
If your list gets long with failures and questions, no problem! Reward yourself for working through so many different avenues of thought in pursuit of a solution. You’ve got this!
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison’s famous invention of the lightbulb was monumental in ringing in an era of electricity. Despite most being familiar with his success, his quote on failure is less widely known.
This isn’t uncommon. Only 20% of research papers published were ones with null results, according to a Stanford investigation team. There continues to be a heavy bias toward successful experiments, and a lack of focus on learning from mistakes.
How can you translate this to your own life? Mistakes are inevitable- there are zero toddlers who learned how to walk without falling first. Similarly, you’ve probably solved a math problem incorrectly at least once before figuring out how to complete it fully.
Don’t be afraid to value your failures in less measurable endeavors as well. Are you trying to pursue a new daily schedule to be more productive? Or perhaps trying a new diet for your own health?
You will likely fail to wake up on time for a few days, and you may end up burning your new breakfast once or twice. But through this trial and error, you’ll get closer to finding methods and dishes that work for you.
“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” Johnny Cash
Sure, Johnny Cash’s quote on failure is a long one. But the message is clear- failures can be a stepping stone, as long as you don’t let them consume all of your energy. If you’re feeling burned out from failing, it is healthy and often best to take a complete break and step back.
Step away from the computer if you’re working on something online. When was the last time you went on a walk or had a snack break? Even switching to a different task-at-hand can help ensure you don’t waste your energy focusing on a failure that has already occurred.
When you feel more rested (or sick of the task you’ve switched to,) you’ll be more likely to tackle the outstanding project with new energy and gusto.
Equipping Failure as a Learning Opportunity
It can be easy to feel down when you fail at a task or assignment. After all, we rarely tackle something without a specific end goal in mind. However, there are countless ways failures are absolutely crucial to success.
It’s time we stop becoming consumed by fear when we fail. Failed projects can offer opportunities for self-reflection and learning. Is a fear of failure stopping you from getting started on a new task or hobby?
Check out more posts about fear of failure and how it could be holding you back:
- 26 Powerful Quotes About Fear of Failure
- 40 Goal Getter Quotes To Inspire Action
- 46 Inspirational Quotes About Fear (So You Can Overcome It)
- How to Overcome Fear in Life: 3 Useful Tactics
- 18 Eye-Opening Quotes About Moving Forward In Life
- 30 Inspiring Quotes About Enjoying Life