Failure as a Success III

The modern jets we fly on today are born of an accumulation of successes and failures over the decades. Aircraft designers constantly dream up new design elements in an effort to improve the safety, efficiency and handling characteristics of the aircraft we fly commercially, privately and in the military and some of them work while many of them do not. To be sure, progress comes as a result of both success and failure.

You are likely familiar with the Wright Brothers and their exploits in early aviation history, but most are unaware of the fact that Wilbur wrote a letter to the Smithsonian early on to request information and publications on aeronautics long before the testing of the Wright Flyer I. They studied the successes and failures of aviation pioneers such as Sir George Cayley, Chanute, Leonardo da Vinci and Lilienthal as a means of guiding their thinking on the project. Most are also unaware of the fact that the brothers went back and forth from their bike shop in Ohio to Kitty Hawk, NC over the course of three years trying new controls, airfoil shapes and the like, systematically seeking progress by testing their ideas – to the point of failure or success.

Never frown upon failure. Look at it this way, failure rules out one or several of the choices which do not lead to success. Armed with such information, your next approach can be, if you are careful to learn your lessons, more informed. As William George Jordan noted:

Failure is one of God’s educators. It is experience leading man to higher things; it is the revelation of a way, a path hitherto unknown to us. The best men in the world, those who have made the greatest real successes look back with serene happiness on their failures. The turning of the face of Time shows all things in a wondrously illuminated and satisfying perspective.

Many a man is thankful today that some petty success for which he once struggled, melted into thin air as his hand sought to clutch it. Failure is often the rock-bottom foundation of real success. If man, in a few instances of his life can say, “Those failures were the best things in the world that could have happened to me,” should he not face new failures with undaunted courage and trust that the miraculous ministry of Nature may transform these new stumbling-blocks into new stepping-stones?

The next time you experience failure, don’t look down, rise up! You can and should gain perspective from each and every failure you experience in life. To do anything less is a terrible waste of a valuable lesson.

7 thoughts on “Failure as a Success III

  1. Joshua

    “should he not face new failures with undaunted courage and trust that the miraculous ministry of Nature may transform these new stumbling-blocks into new stepping-stones?”

    Exactly the point, thanks for refreshing my courage in this day. And may this spirit carry forward to the morn, when I can rise and say “Let’s do this” without a shadow of doubt.


  2. Colin

    I think that most of us have had the experience where we think we know what’s best for us. Yet as Jordan notes, how many times have we been unable to meet that goal, and instead realized something far better than we could have imagined? Yet I’d bet that most would let this same pattern of circumstance play out again and again. Why is there such an inability to allow the natural order of things to fall the way it will? There are many reasons why struggling for what you think you want often turns out less glorious than anticipated. One reason is that when you seek to so rigidly control the outcomes of things, you lose perspective, and therefore the ability to see accurately the path you should take. If you can relax into life, you’ll find that so many things will fall into place; both successes and failures.


  3. Beth C.

    Gaining perspective from failure requires a clear head and a calm heart to see whatever adjustments are required to move forward and upward. Without adjustment, what might start as regret or disappointment can soon descend into discouragement and lethargy with failure becoming the destination rather than the stopover. It is great to shed some light on this and see how balance and momentum can be maintained even as failures occur. I will remember this and be interested to see what opportunities some failure may bring! Thanks.


  4. Ricardo B.

    In counseling many a person, I’ve often said, if there’s anything that can be salvaged from a tragedy, say a health crisis of sorts, then let’s look what that may be. Let not a tragedy rest in mere tragedy, for then all is just rubble and nothing is gleaned from the tragedy/failure, nothing is learned if we want to take steps to not repeat the tragedy. Using this example of health further, ask anyone and they’ll of course say the do not want physical ills in their lives, yet many simply feel the ills that befall them are simply due to genetics, age, and various other risk factors that are beyond their ability to influence. These are real factors of course, but they are only half of the equation, sometimes less, sometimes more. The other part has to do with choice, behavior, attitude and action and these very much modify the outcome. This is the quality of the environment that helps shape the expression of the control. The science of epigenetics states this very same thing.

    So, this whole matter of success and failure quite nicely follows the methodologies involved in good science. Understanding is refined through endless observation and testing, and this should be practically applied in our daily living as well as you state. Great post for further thought!


  5. DeeDee

    It is so true! There have been pivotal points in my life where if the failure had turned out differently I wouldn’t have been in position to meet my husband, for example. There are so many failures to be thankful for, because it opens the way for real success when the heart is determined in the right spirit.


  6. Kimberly

    Failure has gotten a bad rap. Look up the stats on any sports star or inventor. When a baby learns to walk they fall plenty but any parent in their right mind sees it only as a process of learning. When do we start counting the process as unacceptable failure? It is refreshing to look anew at this priceless part of most experience. Simply put, to be despairing with what appears to be a most natural part of education is a waste of our precious lives.
    Great thing to teach or children; how to emotionally weather this process.


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