The Success of Failure

Hugh Laurie, the mad doctor on TV's House, quoted his father, an Olympic gold medalist in rowing, as saying: "Any idiot can win." Laurie went on to say that what his father meant was "Winning doesn't actually teach you anything." You win. End of story. But the losing and how you deal with it and what you take from it--that's the interesting bit...

While most of people focus on winning--in sports, business or life--this wisdom suggests that any idiot can win. It's failures and what you learn from them that's truly valuable.


In the world of mental software, this is known as a reframe because you're putting a new mental "frame" around an existing idea.

I play golf, not that well, but I shoot in the 90s. While 90% of golfers never break 100, this gives me little comfort when "par" is 72. Reflecting on Laurie's advice, I realized that every time I hit a good shot I don't really learn anything. As we sometimes say on the golf course: "Even a blind squirrel can find a nut once in a while."

Every time I hit a bad shot, I get frustrated, but getting frustrated only makes you tense and a worse golfer. Using Laurie's advice, I'm trying to learn to use these experiences as learning opportunities: analyzing what didn't work and how to correct it. That's the interesting bit!

Winners Learn From Failure

Look at almost any successful person and they've had their share of failures. Walt Disney went bankrupt twice. Lee Iacocca was passed over for the CEO of Ford. Winners learn from failure; whiners never do.

So this is the success of failure: it hones you for success. Just because one thing doesn't work doesn't mean it won't work somewhere else. Post-it notes were born from a failed glue.

What can you learn from your failures? 
How far can your failures advance you toward success?

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