How to Fail Successfully



Hi! Welcome to this week’s training. I’m Sherri Wilson, an introverted entrepreneur that trains and empowers other introverted entrepreneurs and business owners in the art of persuasion and influence to communicate your message confidently and create the life and business true to who you are.

This week I want to discuss, “How to Fail Successfully.” 

Failure by definition is defined as a “lack of success.” But if you study any of the great businessmen and women, you’ll find that each one suffered at least one MAJOR failure and often a failure that would’ve caused others to pack up their bags and go back to what is safe. 

Let me give you a few examples:

  1. Walt Disney is one of my favorites stories. He was fired from the KANSAS CITY STAR because he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.

  2. Milton Hershey started 3 candy companies that failed before starting the LANCASTER CARAMEL COMPANY.

  3. Steve Jobs was fired from Apple, a company he founded in his 20’s, only to be asked back and take it to new heights.

  4. Oprah Winfrey was fired from her TV anchor job because was too emotionally invested in her stories.

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.
— Henry Ford

What I find intriguing about each of these examples is that they not only went on to be successful, but they went on to be successful in the very industry that told them they’d never make it. This begs the question: what did all of these individuals possess that empowered them to not quit? And to go beyond what people said. I mean think about it. How many have not pursued their dreams because someone told them they’d never make it or they lacked some needed quality? Of course, there are times when you do know when to shift into something else. But I believe that everyone of us has a vision, a passion that we were designed to fulfill. It’s something you know. You feel it in your being. And quitting just isn’t in the equation.

Attitude Is More Important Than IQ

Psychologist Carol Dweck at Stanford University has spent her entire career studying attitude and released new research revealing the SECRET TO SUCCESS, especially after failure. The first conclusion of her research is YOUR ATTITUDE IS A BETTER PREDICTOR OF YOUR SUCCESS THAN YOUR IQ. What exactly is attitude? 

The origin of the word attitude is actually a stem from the word APTITUDE, which is capability, ability and intelligence. Attitude, today, is defined as MANNER, DISPOSITION, FEELING, TENDENCY, OR ORIENTATION, ESPECIALLY OF THE MIND. 

The Two Mindsets

Carol Dweck discovered that we possess one of two core attitudes: FIXED MINDSET and GROWTH MINDSET

  1. The fixed mindset is that you believe you are who you are and cannot change.

  2. The growth mindset is that you believe you can improve in all areas of your life with effort.

The shocking discovery is that those with a growth mindset outperformed those with a fixed mindset even if their IQ is lower!

You see, the person with the fixed mindset is easily overwhelmed with challenges that seem to be more than he or she can handle leading to hopelessness because, again, “You are who you are.”

But people with the growth mindset see challenges as an opportunity to grow and learn new things. They embrace challenge and welcome setbacks. Dweck says that SUCCESS IN LIFE IS ALL ABOUT HOW YOU DEAL WITH FAILURE. 


Oprah, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney all possessed an ability to overcome feeling helpless. They refused to be victims of it and developed the mindset to bound back even better.

Another key quality you see in these individuals is a passion for their vision that sustained them in times of rejection and failure. THEY BELIEVED IN THEMSELVES AND THEIR VISION. They might have had times of doubt but did not let it stop them. They also continued to take action EVEN AFTER FAILURE AND DURING THE TIMES OF WORK WITH NO APPARENT RESULTS OR GUARANTEED SUCCESS.

Internal Motivation

One of my favorite topics in my training is Emotional Intelligence. I teach it with a different spin on it. I teach people scientific principles that allow a person to shift and rule their emotional state with others and reduce stress. But one of the traditional components of Emotional Intelligence is SUSTAINED MOTIVATION, which is the ability to stay motivated from the inside instead of needing to be motivated from the outside through people or circumstances.

From the point of your original dream to the fulfillment of that dream is a time I call the “MIDDLE WORK.” It’s the time in your process where you have no visible results. It’s past the initial excitement of starting your journey and prior to the end result of your work.

Ok. So that means, you can’t rely on RESULTS to keep motivating you. That is where sustained motivation comes in. It’s the quality of refusing to look at external circumstances to measure success. I once heard a very successful businessman (can’t remember his name) say that the only failure is quitting. His point was that anyone will eventually succeed if they don’t quit.  

I’m sure you know this, but it needs to be said. No one is ever an overnight success. Each spent YEARS crafting their skill, working toward their goal, and hitting the streets knocking on doors and looking for opportunity not waiting for it. You must keep TAKING ACTION. And when you plateau, do not stop! Keep going.

The successful also EXPECT RESULTS. They know they will fail at times but they do not see FAILURE AS AN OPTION. What does this mean? Those with a growth mindset know they might lose some battles but it’s impossible to them to lose the war, so to speak. 

One fixed mindset is the PERFECTIONIST MINDSET. This mindset leaves no room for failure literally paralyzing you when you fail or make a mistake or quitting because you feel you can’t get it perfect.

All start off doing the best with what they have in talent and resources knowing that as success allows, they will take their vision to the next level. I.e. You might not be able to be at the level you see in your mind at first. It’s progressive. 

You must be flexible knowing that some obstacles will need to be climbed up and over, some you’ll have to go around, some you’ll have to go through or under, and some you’ll have to use to blow up with innovation. FLEXIBILITY IS A SIGN OF THE GROWTH MINDSET. 

Complaining and blaming others are two of the biggest signs of a fixed mindset. All of us must take personal responsibility for our success and not use our upbringing, race, economic status, education, or anything else as an excuse to make failure our constant condition.

I hope you see that FAILING IS SIMPLY FEEDBACK for what you need to change or improve, which isn’t really failing. If you know that you know you were born to do what you’re doing or working toward, the only failure is quitting.

There are plateaus but you must not stay there; you must go beyond them. A man must constantly exceed his level.
— Bruce Lee

I hope this training has helped you. It sure helped me when I learned about this research because I was at that middle work place wondering if I was wasting my time and if my idea would work. Actually, I’m still at that middle place figuring things out, tweaking things, and learning how to grow. You could say that all of us have some area of life or business that is in that middle place. Be encouraged! 

As a final tidbit, one way to accelerate the process is to find a mentor! They can short the long middle work road. 

And that’s it! If you feel this training was helpful, share it with those you care about. You can send them to the blog at Sherri with an I and Anne with an E or invite them to our private Facebook Group for live FB training each week. 

Until next week, be empowered in who you are!

Sherri Wilson