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Celebrating Failure

April 5, 2013

We don’t celebrate failure enough. Without it, some of the greatest inventions and innovations would cease to exist. I guess we were all raised to focus on what we accomplish instead of appreciating the value of what we learn along the way. Thoughts of failure have taken up temporary residence in my brain lately. It started when I had to postpone my very first cultural immersion trip to Grand Cayman. I’m sure it was just as disappointing to my artist friends on the island as it was to me. But we are moving forward…gathering up what we learned and adapting to what needs to happen next. Now with all this new information processing in my head, I figured I’d go out there and look for some inspiration on the topic of failure. And boy oh boy did I find some. So much so that I figured I’d share it with you too. Here are some interesting thoughts on failure from some of the most incredible minds and talents of our time.

  • Albert Einstein said “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” He didn’t speak until he was 4-years-old and did not read until he was 7. His parents thought he was “sub-normal,” and one of his teachers described him as “mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in foolish dreams.” He was expelled from school and was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School.  Hmmm…somehow this “sub-normal, mentally slow” man managed to learn to read and write…and even do a bit of math.  😉
  • Thomas Edison’s teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” He was fired from his first two jobs for being “non-productive.” As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
  • “Failing is one of the greatest arts in the world. One fails toward success.” ~ Charles Kettering
  • “Failure provides the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.” ~ Henry Ford
  • “The fastest way to succeed is to double your failure rate.” ~ Thomas Watson Sr.
  • Van Gogh sold only one painting during his life.  And this to the sister of one of his friends for 400 francs (approximately $50). This didn’t stop him from completing over 800 paintings.
  • Decca Records turned down a recording contract with the Beatles with the unprophetic evaluation, “We don’t like their sound. Groups of guitars are on their way out.” After Decca rejected the Beatles, Columbia records followed suit.  Doh!
  • In 1954, Jimmy Denny, manager of the Grand Ole Opry, fired Elvis Presley after one performance. He told Presley, “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.”
  • Beethoven handled the violin awkwardly and preferred playing his own compositions instead of improving his technique. His teacher called him “hopeless as a composer.” This hopeless music man somehow managed to write five of his greatest symphonies while completely deaf.  Now who’s the hopeless one?
  • Louis Pasteur was only a mediocre pupil in undergraduate studies and ranked 15th out of 22 students in chemistry. In 1872, Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, wrote that “Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.”

So how about taking a moment to celebrate your latest failure? After all, it’s just the next step necessary to get you to where you want to go. If you’re going to fail, I say fail miserably, learn what you need to learn and get back up and keep moving. Onward my friends! Let’s make some magic happen.

A special thank you to all the artists that have supported Travel Gal along the way and keep believing in what we’re building together.  I love you all!  (Pascal Lagesse & Christyna Smith-Jauffret from  Mauritius, Ada Colorina from Puerto Vallarta, Gordon Solomon, Alta Solomon, Nasaria Suckoo Chollette and Randy Chollette from Grand Cayman, and J2 from New Orleans, Chicago and Little Rock – what can I say…she’s a traveling gal.)


One of my daily mandalas to help illustrate the ups and downs of building a business and following your dreams.

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