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

By Rochi | Motivation

Oct 30

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.

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