Failure’s Success Story

I was on Facebook last night and the latest thing making the rounds is a copy and paste status update about suicide. The post tries to convey the idea that someone is always watching. Helps is always at hand and lists some suicide support numbers.

A little bit of bullshit that we “okay” people put out there to hopefully sway the mind of someone bent on suicide. And of course it doesn’t work. The person bent on suicide already knows that no one is watching, they know that no one cares. They are lost, adrift in their own little bubble of self pity.

Suicide is the ultimate failure and it is a leading cause of death at this time of year. It is also the one thing that I actually label as failure because it is something that one cannot bounce back from.

It is ironic then that an attempted suicide that fails is actually many times the pathway to success.

Ekhart Tolle was on his way out when he gained enlightenment and went on to write a series of wildly popular books and become a celebrity of sorts on the subject of living in the present moment.

He is not the only one – attached here is a surprisingly long list of famous well known people who at one time or other attempted suicide.

Looking at these success stories I cannot help but again feel overwhelmed with sadness for the greats that successfully carried it (suicide)through and left the world a poorer place for their passing. Robin Williams stands out – he was one of my favourite actors and comedians.


I think we probably need to turn this post on failure around. It is getting very dark in here.

Failure is the seed you plant in order to grow a successful tree. Ha! There is a little laugh for you.

I didn’t bother turning this into a quotable.   I know already it is a failure as a quote – it doesn’t look believable. Until you start to read who has become a success after they failed.

Numbers are powerful which is why analysts use them. Edison failed 10,000 times in inventing the lightbulb. Dyson failed 5216 times in inventing a bagless vacuum cleaner. I’m so glad these people persisted – I love my Dyson and although I haven’t thought much about how convenient it is to turn a light on when I walk into the room in the dark – I would miss it if I couldn’t do such a thing.

And these are just two examples –  here are plenty more quotes from people that have failed thanks to Forbes magazine. Just reading them begins to change your mindset about failure.

Failure as a stepping stone to success is a story seemingly stuck on repeat once you tune into it.

Failure cannot “fail” as long as it is learnt from and the effort replicated until it becomes success.

Success is a process and it often includes failure along the way.

Many of the greatest figures in human history have at one time (or many) felt like failures. Worst – they have been told they are failures. I found this article on the Megafounder blog and to save me a great deal of typing have linked it to my own because it shows just how many of the people we all look up to as inspirational were actually at first FAILURES.

Which means therefore that we must redefine the word failure.

Failure and success are personal stories and they vary according to the person experiencing these things. Money and fame may appear to be a resounding success to the outsider meanwhile the famous, fabulously wealthy person is quietly checking out on a bottle of pills.

People can feel highly successful and satisfied with far less.

Yearning is the failure.


Just as success looks different according to the individual – so does failure.

On my Instagram (top of the page click link) I follow a few sobriety sites.

When I gave up wine a fortnight or so back I was feeling very virtuous and a little bit smug so I went off to follow other sober people.

What I discovered humbled me.

I know now I am not addicted to alcohol. I may have a deep affection for the substance but I am certainly no addict. Giving up my evening wine does not make me a success story other than in perhaps becoming more disciplined. Go me!

In my search for sober people I did however find a great many success stories that may have looked like tales of  failure to begin with. I found courageous people defying odds. I found inspiration in the broken picking themselves up and deciding to become whole.

These people are true success stories yet firstly they were outright failures and some even tried to become the ultimate failure and commit suicide. “I don’t remember how I got to hospital – they found me hanging from a tree” were chilling words. Luckily this lady failed at suicide and went on to instead become successful survivor.

From these brave people I learnt that failure always turns into success with enough hard work and self belief. They may not start off with self belief and self respect but it is learnt along the journey.

Seen in this way and in those of the famous people that we all know who have walked the journey to success along the road to failure  it can be understood that the failure is in fact perhaps often the seed to success.

Through the documentaries on FMTV I have seen unhealthy morbidly obese people become healthy and rejuvenated – making lifestyle changes that not only alter their own lives but those around them. They don’t make the changes easily but they do make them and in doing so, sow the seeds for success.

How many movie plots include failure as part of a success – plenty – and every single Rocky movie.  This is because as humans we understand the theme so well and can relate to it.

Success is not fame and fortune. Failure is not a lack of these things.

Success is success but failure is also just success waiting to happen.

A person may fail but failure is not the destination – it merely means that you are still on the journey.

Success is the destination and it still looms ahead – perhaps out of sight but definitely in the future and the chance to experience it never goes away. People become successful for the first time in their lives at 90 and older.

Last year I was walking around admiring the latest batch of paintings in the Gallery attached to our Library. The library lady came in to chat. “Isn’t it remarkable” she said “he only picked up a paintrbrush and started painting at 72”. It was remarkable and all the more so that having entered an old age home a few years prior this man was now exhibiting his paintings. What is often referred to as God’s Waiting Room had offered this elder a chance to do something he had never done – paint and yes his paintings were extraordinarily beautiful.

Failure is the story of success. It is the first chapter and the second and the third and fourth and 50,000 pages all the way until it is finished.

Failure writes the story and success is the book on the shelf. It may also be ten books in the bottom drawer but success is the final one – the one that the woman stands in front of, reads the blurb and carries over to the counter. “I’ll take this one – apparently it is a bestseller” she says, the clerk replies “Oh yes it has been very popular.”

And just like that all those failures become a success.

Stephen King’s first novel Carrie was rejected many times – he threw it in the bin- his wife rescued it and it would eventually sell over one million copies in the first year alone. Thousands of authors were first rejected failures umpteen times. It seems ludicrous to reject Stephen King’s work yet it happened and it happens to many many many many (many many many) great authors.

We all feel like failures sometimes. I think that is part of being humans with a thinking mind. The key is not to view a failure as a destination – it is merely part of the journey to success. There is always another day. There is always another idea. There is always something coming to you even if you’re an impatient sod and it seems like it is taking a jolly long time.

Your best days are still to come, just hold on and be patient.

If this post has triggered feelings of wanting to talk to someone about your problems you are in luck. There are lots of people who can help you deal. Just click on the links below to be taken to a website and/or phone numbers that can help.

Beyond Blue 


Reach Out

Suicide Prevention Australia

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