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How to Transform Failure into Success

If you’ve lived a few years, you’ve experienced failure. More than once, most likely, and probably many times. For every success, the backstory usually involves a string of different approaches of varying degrees of promise before arriving at one that worked. While some are cowed by failure and cannot see beyond it, others find ingenious solutions arising from failure. How do you transform failure into success? Here are some thoughts.

Failure Is Never Inevitable

“Success is most often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.” – Coco Chanel

One of the most difficult lessons to learn is that you don’t know everything. Children believe they can do anything. They have no fear. Life is joyous and full of new things to discover. After a few scraped knees, tummy aches from eating too much candy, getting snubbed by your best playmate, however, things start to look a bit different. The outlook isn’t always so bright – unless it’s nurtured by wise and loving parents or others who want to help you succeed.

Yet, even some children who lacked any harmonious family dynamic go on to believe in themselves with a fierce determination and unbridled optimism. They won’t let anything or anyone stand in their way. Despite mistakes, missteps and what others might characterize as failures, they persevere. They have a goal or destination in mind and the will to keep going until they achieve it.

Whether it’s positive parenting or innate human temperament, children are creative, optimistic and courageous. If one toy breaks, they figure out a way to adapt it to their story. There are no real failures and failure is never inevitable.

There is a lesson here. Life continually presents challenges, some seemingly impossible to overcome. We can give up, try to ignore what’s in front of us, or move forward with courage and conviction and a firm belief that we will succeed. It may take time, a lot of hard work and a few detours, but we know that we will get there eventually.

Just because there’ve been many setbacks, no significant accomplishments, or no one offering encouragement doesn’t mean that success isn’t possible or that failure is inevitable.

Remember that life is what you make of it. Scrap the idea of failure and embrace the likelihood of success. You’ll be more motivated to follow your dreams, and undeterred by hurdles you encounter, finding new approaches and solutions in pursuit of your ultimate success.

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The Benefits of Failure

“Remember the two benefits of failure. First, if you do fail, you learn what doesn’t work; and second, the failure gives you the opportunity to try a new approach.” – Roger Von Oech

Nobody immediately thinks failure is good. Yet, failure holds valuable lessons for those who choose to examine it closely. The most obvious benefit is that you know what didn’t work this time. Will the same approach work another time? If you carefully analyze what happened and how your actions either contributed to failure or helped sabotaged success, you may be able to modify or revise your strategy.

For example, look at why you didn’t complete a work project on time. Maybe you didn’t allow enough time to do the job right. Perhaps you required more resources that you forgot to or intentionally didn’t obtain. You might have needed the assistance of others, but didn’t ask until it was too late. Whether arrogance, over-confidence, short-sightedness or improper time management, the lessons you learn from this failure can prove beneficial in the long run.

The next benefit of failure is the opportunity to try something new. Suppose you just got dumped. You may experience sadness, depression, anger, want revenge, or become jealous of the attention others pay to your now-ex-partner. How can this failure be beneficial? Figure out where you may have missed some clues or neglected the relationship. This may help you realize there are things you can do better the next time you’re in a relationship you’re trying to make work. 

Do you talk more than you listen? Start listening to others without interrupting is something to try. 

If you always think of yourself first, factor in how your partner feels and do things they like. Acting in the best interests of others on a regular basis is more endearing than being selfish.

What if your failure stems from an emotional problem or need? If you are too clingy, that will drive away someone who needs their own space. If you are fearful of becoming too vulnerable, you risk not being open enough. A good relationship requires trust and feeling free to express yourself and be heard without criticism. It’s a two-way street. You need to be vulnerable and respect your partner’s vulnerability.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember about failure is that it is never permanent. There are always lessons to learn from mistakes and opportunities to try different approaches the next time. Failure does not characterize who you are. You are not a failure, you’ve just made some mistakes. It’s what you do about them that matters most.

Fall Down, Get Up

“Just because you fail once doesn’t mean you’re gonna fail at everything.” – Marilyn Monroe

Everyone fails sometime. It isn’t the fact that you fail that’s the determining factor, but what you do about it. Many people say that it’s only by making mistakes that you learn anything truly valuable. Instead of fearing failure and doing everything you can to avoid it, accept that failure will occur. Then, figure out what happened so you don’t make the same mistake twice.

In other words, if you fall down, get up. You will make progress if you maintain determination, keep a good attitude, try different approaches and enlist the support of those who encourage your goals.

Still, failure hurts, especially when you’ve worked so hard to succeed. Put aside counterproductive emotions, pick yourself up, and get back to the task at hand. Life may be telling you something you didn’t want to hear. Maybe you need repeated instruction in certain life lessons before the reality begins to sink in. Now is the time and this is the place to begin.

You’ve fallen down, now get back up and get to work. In the end, this is the only approach that will revitalize you, marshal your motivation, and fuel your determination to succeed. 

Turn Failure Into Success

“The season of failure is the best time for sowing the seeds of success.” – Yogananda

Failure is so disagreeable that no one wants to think about it, let alone experience it. Yet, each of us goes through experiences that don’t always turn out as anticipated. 

What can we learn from failure? Successful people know that within failure lies the opportunity to learn valuable lessons. Some even say their success today is because they failed on numerous occasions. Instead of seeing failure as despicable and to be avoided at all costs, they appreciated failure’s humbling experience provides. They also found the nuggets of wisdom inherent in each failure.

In other words, they were able to turn failure into success.

The key is to be disciplined enough to look for the lessons that failure provides. Indeed, the best time to work through priorities and rearrange them according to what is meaningful comes at the lowest point of experience. That’s when values crystallize and the insignificant and unimportant become apparent. Turning failure into success can be learned with practice, determination and a hopeful attitude.

How to Transform Failure into Success

Suzanne Kane

Suzanne Kane is a Los Angeles-based writer, blogger and editor. Passionate about helping others live a vibrant and purposeful life, she writes daily for her website, She is a regular contributor to Psych Central. You can reach her at [email protected].

APA Reference
Kane, S. (2019). How to Transform Failure into Success. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 9, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 23 Sep 2019 (Originally: 21 Sep 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 23 Sep 2019
Published on Psych All rights reserved.