From the vault of failure: Why it’s critical to success?

There was a rabbit, called Rabbit, who had measles. His friends came to visit him with a giant bee, called Miss Bee.

This was the first fairy tale written by a small, rotund girl of 6. Being a dreamer from childhood, she continued to write stories and narrate them to her sister.

Her mother narrated to her so many books that she could recite them by heart. At school, her favorite subject was English language and reading. Teachers read her stories aloud in classrooms which encouraged her to write.

But the math teacher treated her with hostility which made her frustrated and underconfident.

She was shy and kept scribbling in her notebook. Her classmates used to say that she lived in her own “fantasy world”.

In high school, her favorite granny died and her relationship with her father soured. Her mother became ill with multiple sclerosis. Her mother wasn’t getting better – and her illness was the biggest shock of her life.

At 17, she was rejected from Oxford University.

So, she went to Exeter to study French and classical philology. After graduating, she went to Paris for a year and worked at Amnesty International.

She knew that this job did not fit her.

While waiting for a train one day, she weaved this idea about a boy who lived in a different magical world of his own. 

Soon after, when she was 25, her mother died. It was hard for her to escape this trauma. A year later, she moved and suffered a miscarriage.

At 27, she married the love of her life. Her daughter was born. But a few months after her birth, her husband beat her and drove her out of the house.

She moved with her sister along with her infant daughter. By this time, she was diagnosed with severe clinical depression.

At 30, she contemplated suicide.

She wrote in little cafes when her daughter slept. She wrote about the same fairy tale world she designed on that train. She sent the copies of a few chapters of her book to publishers.

They said “It is too difficult for children” or “It is too long”.

12 publishing houses rejected to print the manuscript of her book. Until, finally, Bloomsbury agreed to publish her book.

They printed only 1,000 copies – not expecting the massive success of, Harry Potter.

Now, those first 1,000 copies are worth 30,000€.

Philosopher’s stone won the award for best children’s book of the year. The Prisoner of Azkaban won the best book of the year in 1999.

Rowling becomes the first person to win the prize three times in a row.

Goblet of Fire sold 3 million copies in 24 hours — a world record. But the Deathly Hallows broke that too —it sold 11 million copies in just a few hours.

Before we go on….

Ugh, is this some kind of ‘motivational porn’ article?

I know, by this point, you might be thinking:

  • Are you going to tell me to “never give up?”
  • Overnight success is a myth
  • Do you also think it’s that easy?
  • Oh God, now don’t tell me to “think positive” no matter what.


  • Please don’t remind me that Edison failed ten thousand times before he invented bulb

By the way, I’ll be mentioning all this, but, still you should read because it’s not all that bad.

So, where were we?

Are you telling me to fail so that I succeed?


But I’m telling you that Rowling’s depression inspired her dementors. Her math teacher took the shape of Severus Snape. And she wrote Philosopher’s stone while she was battling the toughest times of her life.

But I’m telling you Henry Ford went broke five times before he succeeded.

But I’m telling you that Walt Disney was fired because his editor believed he “lacked imagination” and had “no good ideas.”

But I’m telling you Jack Ma was rejected from Harvard ten times and lost a job at KFC.

But I’m telling you Micheal Jordan missed 9000 goals.

But I’m telling you Bill Gates’ first business was a failure.

But I’m telling you Steven Spielberg was rejected from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, twice.

You get the idea.

The problem isn’t that you fail – the problem is you think you wouldn’t. It doesn’t matter whether I say you need to fail to succeed. It doesn’t matter whether anyone gives you the formula of success step-by-step.

It doesn’t matter because you’re going to fail anyway.

You’re going to make mistakes and you’re going to get disappointed. Failure isn’t an option, it’s a part of success.

Successful companies have failed fast and frequent.

Al Teller, a Just ask record company executive, says

“If people conscientiously try changing their perspective as they look at a specific problem I think they would find a path to the solution comes a lot easier. And, maybe, the solution becomes more robust, more interesting and, ultimately, a lot more effective.”

If it’s so important to fail, why do we have such a hard time with it?

Subconscious of failure – it’s that easy

It has been proved that the fear of failure is directly related to our sense of self-worth.

Research has found that we protect our self-worth by believing we are competent and convincing others of the same. For this reason, the ability to achieve is critical in maintaining our self-worth.

Our brains are wired to find patterns in facts even when the things are totally unrelated.

This is somewhat a picture of how our brains connect the dots:

Naturally after subsequent continuous failures, we engage in practices that protect our self worth — excuses and defense mechanisms.

And if we look closely, this is what our brain does then:

But we can also alter this structural belief of our brain by “cognitive reframing.”

Cognitive reframing is a psychological technique of identifying a harmful perspective and then disputing its irrationality and finding more positive alternatives.

So, instead of decoding patterns in our brain, linking failure with our self-worth, we can alter it.

Link failure with an experience rather than self-worth. Our brain is wired to connect dots even when they’re not related at all.

We are designed to find patterns. I tell you to accept this fact and connect the dot of “failure” with “experience”.

Every successful person has consciously or unconsciously done this – believing failure is a learning experience rather than taking it personally.

Interpret your failures logically and rationally, from another person’s perspective, instead of interpreting your failures as your inability to do something.


I think I’ve checked pretty much of my outline:

  • Are you going to tell me to “never give up?”
  • Overnight success is a myth
  • Do you also think it’s that easy?
  • Oh God, now don’t tell me to “think positive” no matter what.


Thomas Edison created bulb…but before that he failed 10,000 times. Of course, he couldn’t make it overnight. He knew it wasn’t easy. But he never gave up, because he did cognitive reframing of his mind about failure:

“I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways it won’t work.”

  • Please don’t remind me that Edison failed ten thousand times before he invented bulb

Go, fail fast and frequent. But don’t take it personally.

3 Theories On How You Can Stay Motivated

Unmotivated employees cost companies $300billion each year.

How many times have you set well-planned goals and followed them for days until you finally lost the motivation and sprung back to the start?

All of us have been there. The puzzle of motivation has webbed everyone.

The struggle to stay motivated is real. These fluctuations are a part of success and everyone is guilty of them.

You might get motivated to accomplish something and follow the schedule you set strictly, for a week. After that, we’ve all experienced our energies and inspiration melt away.

However, there are still theories that you could use when you just “don’t feel like” working towards your goal.

Let me tell you all about these theories to help you become productive even when you don’t feel motivated:

1. Don’t Make Goals, Make Habits

92% of New Year goals fail by January 15th.

I’m gonna break the big bubble to you: Your goals are overrated.

Like everyone, I also relied too much on self-discipline and became overconfident in my abilities. Little did I know, staying motivated required much more than that.

You don’t need goals, you need habits.

Habits are easy. They stick when goals don’t. And habits are specific, you know what you need to do and when do you need to do it.

The reason why most of us make goals and not habits is because, goals feel much more inspiring in our minds than habits.

But the reality is, you need to develop the underlying habits for you to change yourself.

Goals finish and swing back to where you started. With habits, you have to just consistently repeat what you’ve been doing for weeks until it finally becomes a way of your life.

In Mason Currey’s book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, he notes how many of the famous artists followed a consistent ritual:

  • Anthony Trollope, who wrote more than two dozen books in his lifetime, wrote 3000 words every morning.
  • Haruki Murakami wakes up at 4AM, writes for five hours and then goes for a run.

Creative work isn’t created by setting up a fancy, sexy-sounding goal, it’s done by following consistent rituals and practices, developing them into habits.

When you say something cliche like: “I will write a bestseller this year”, it becomes much easier to put that goal off till June, July or at whatever point when you realize it’s too late.

On the other hand, habits only take 66 days of consistent effort to become automatic.

So screw goals, no matter how cool they sound. Adopt habits. Make rituals. Pick any small component of your goal and do it for the next 66 days.

Did you read that? I said pick any small component of your goal:

2. Start Small

If you keep the difficulty level of your to an epitome you cannot reach, you will become demotivated to continue it at all. It is too difficult.

On the extreme, if you keep it too low, you will get demotivated because it is too easy.

Tasks that are below your current abilities are boring, tasks that are beyond are discouraging. You have to set a target that’s right on the boundary. Keep the difficulty level juuusst right.

You shouldn’t need motivation to start. Starting is the most important part. Keep it so simple that you cannot deny it.

So, let’s go back to: “I will write bestseller this year.” Start by writing just 200 words each day.

That shouldn’t be hard. Anyone can sit down to write 200 words. If you procrastinate on this as well, make it even smaller: Write just 10 words each day.

It doesn’t take effort to sit down and write 10 words. And yes, you aren’t allowed to judge how those words are.

They can be crappy, meaningless, boring, it just has to be 10 words.

A common misconception about motivation is that, it is a cause of action. In real life, it’s the opposite.

Action is the cause of motivation.

That’s why keep starting simple. When you get started, you’ll realize that it becomes easier to continue.

You don’t have to be willing to finish, you have to be willing to start. Willingness to start is the tiniest things that makes the biggest difference.

But, how do you get the willingness to start?

3. Create The Right Environment

Environment is often underrated.

Sure, your self-discipline, willpower and luck matter, but these things are overvalued. Environment matters more.

Unknowingly, environment shapes human behavior. You’re more likely to study in a library and more likely to blow away all the hours amidst your peers.

One of the easiest and crucial tricks to not falling into procrastination is creating an inevitable environment.

Create an environment that makes it harder not to do it rather than doing it.

Environment overpowers your personal characteristics. Your determination matters, but the odds of your success are maximised if you work in an environment that accelerates your actions.

You will be willing to start your bestseller if you go in a silent place (probably full of scenery) and you feel all poetic and quiet.

Let the environment put your decisions on autopilot.


Staying motivated in the long run is a tricky business. We tend to lose inspiration after a couple of weeks and swing back to where we started.

With the following tips you can stay motivated even when you don’t feel like it:

  1. Build habits instead of goals. Goals may sound cooler in our brains, but habits are easier to build and to achieve. By forming a habit, you don’t only achieve your goal, you change way of your life.
  2. Start with the smallest component of your target. Design simple tasks that you cannot deny. If you keep the difficulty level just right according to your abilities, you will not be demotivated.
  3. Environment is often underrated. Create an environment that makes you take actions that you scheduled.

What strategies do you follow for keeping yourself motivated? How did these theories work for you?

I’d love to know in the comments below.