What if I told you that Your Biggest Failure Could Lead to Your Ultimate Success?

“You failed.”

“You’re bankrupt.”

“You will never accomplish anything significant.”

Many of us have suffered a failure, and we’ve probably taken it as the ultimate personal insult.

Some of us have even let it ruin great opportunities.

What if I told you that your biggest failure might lead to your ultimate success.

In this post, we detail a real situation and how it led to doing what everyone hadn’t considered as possible. Imagine how you will feel knowing that what you currently consider the worst-case scenario could be the tipping point to your ultimate breakthrough. Won’t that feel great?

Those that follow me know I write on pivotal success. I’m passionate about helping you break out and breakthrough, thinking bigger to reach higher. I believe each of us should be living 100% alive. To do that we must make strategic decisions based on verified facts.

The number of people who have failed on their way to their ultimate success is staggering. Let’s look at 15 of my favorite stories. Forget the numbering as each of these is equally important. Within each story, notice that they didn’t let the past dictate their future. Instead, they pivoted and kept going. Also, notice how long it took some of them to ultimately succeed.

1. Abraham Lincoln

He failed in business, lost his sweetheart, and suffered a nervous breakdown by the time he was 27. Picking himself up, entered politics to only win one election out of 7 in the next 18 years. Who would have thought he would win the next one, this one for the presidency of the United States. Today he is widely regarded as the best president in U.S. history. Imagine what the United States would be like today had he given up.

2. Oprah Winfrey

Was fired from her television co-anchor position early in her career and told she wasn’t fit for television. Hmm. She not only went on to host the Oprah Winfrey Show, create her own network, and open a school in Africa. Imagine the lives of those she touched without her inspiration.

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3. Albert Einstein

Sought college professorships for many years but was denied, relegated to selling door to door before becoming a low-level patent clerk. Of course, he went on to develop several fundamental core laws governing physics, won the Nobel Prize in 1921, and created the beginnings of quantum theory. Imagine physics and science without this genius’s impact.

4. Walt Disney

Disney had his first cartoon essentially stolen by a partnering organization. Do you suppose he was still pining for Oswald the Rabbit after he created Mickey Mouse? Now imagine our world without Disneyland, Walt Disney World, or Disney Studios.

5. Mary Kay Ash

Mary Kay was passed over for a promotion even though she was outselling every man in the company. So she retired rather than work in a dead-end career. She sat down with her husband to write a book that turned out to be a business plan for a new company. Unfortunately, he died before they could launch it. Undeterred, she pushed forward, borrowed money from her oldest son, and opened her storefront. Imagine how many women’s lives and careers would have been altered had she been content working in a job where she wasn’t appreciated.

6. J.K. Rowling

At age 38, Rowling felt like a failure. Originally she applied to Oxford but was not accepted. She had started to write a novel at age 25 but that work was laid aside as she married and had children only to get divorced. Then her mother died, leaving her depressed and suicidal. She felt like an utter failure. Gradually she finished the book but it was rejected by 12 publishing houses. Finally, one picked it up but paid a pittance upfront. Nevertheless, the public loved it and within 10 years, she was the first author to become a billionaire through writing books. Imagine if she would’ve given in to her depression.

7. Jack London

Demoralized that his biological father’s denied Jack was his son, he dropped out of college and headed for the Klondike. There he pivoted and started writing, determined to write 1000 words a day until he mastered the craft. Even though he made one significant sale, he suffered more than 50 separate in the 5-month period. He prevailed just a few years later when he wrote The Call of the Wild and enjoyed his breakthrough.  Imagine if he would have let his intimate sense of identity destroy his success.

8. Elizabeth Arden

Despite failing in one business, she pivoted her focus, collaborated with another woman to establish what would become a world-leading makeup brand that has lasted for a century. Interestingly enough, she wasn’t a natural at beauty products but, like many others, dedicated time to acquiring the best knowledge and skills. Imagine how we see beauty differently because she persisted.

9. Elvis Presley

We don’t hear much about it but Elvis was once told he couldn’t sing. That’s right. Twice he recorded a demo record that was later rejected. Then he was told he couldn’t sing. So he started driving a truck. He was so frustrated, that he decided to take a job driving a truck. Imagine what Rock & roll would sound like without the King.  

10. Michael Jordon

Was cut from his high school basketball team. What would the NBA look like in the 1990s if he had given up and not tried out the next year?

11. Richard Branson.

How many companies did he start? How many worked for a while but closed, like Virgin Records and Virgin Airlines. Yet he name is synonymous with the “successful entrepreneur.” Do you think he worries about being considered a failure?

12. Emily Dickinson

She was extremely shy and became known as an eccentric recluse. She spent her time writing poetry about rather unsavory topics such as death and yet discussed immortality with her friends. spent most of her time secluded, writing poetry. Is there any wonder she would only get approximately a dozen poems sold in her lifetime? Surprise. After her death, her sister discovered her writings. Today nearly 1800 poems have been published and she is one of the most famous authors of modernity. Imagine how her life would have improved if she would have dared to share her talent while she was alive.

13. Stephen King

He couldn’t get a job teaching so he worked for a laundry service while his wife went to work at Dunkin’ Donuts. He started writing short stories in his spare time. He has written 63 novels, 5 nonfiction books, and 200 short stories that sold over 350 million copies and turned into 60 films. Do you suppose he still wished he would have been hired as a high school teacher?

14. Steve Jobs

He was fired from the company he started. Wow. How does that happen? But then he was hired back and changed the world through the iPhone innovation. We have to appreciate what that took.

15. Thomas Edison

10,000 times he tried to create the lightbulb. I wonder how many times people told him he was crazy and should give up.

Your Challenge

Which story resonates with you?

Your level of success is your choice. By that, I mean that you can choose to quit or continue working.

You can choose to use failure as a stepping stone.

You can also recognize that any criticism says more about the other person than it does about you.

In the end, if you choose to be successful, you will pick yourself up, pivot your perspective, and work toward your ultimate goal. What happens to you isn’t as important as what you decide what you will do with that experience.

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I am Dr. Loren Murfield, and I develop aspiring and emerging leaders pivot to their breakthrough success.   Contact me today to begin your pivot.

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