Healthy Soul/Lessons Learned/My Life/Teen Life

The REAL Pathway To More Success: Failure

If you’re familiar with DJ Khaled’s Snapchat, then you know all about the producer’s “major keys” and his so-called “pathway to more success” that he invites his followers to walk down with him.


But while Khaled’s pathway to more success mostly involves working out on ellipticals and watering flowers, I would like to propose ‘anotha one’, a very different pathway to more success — failure.

It sounds backwards, but hear me out. Michael Jordan didn’t make his high school basketball team when he tried out as a sophomore.

J.K. Rowling had one of her first drafts for a book rejected by 12 different publishers.

Thomas Edison lost one of his first jobs for being “unproductive” and attempted to build one of his inventions for years with 1000 unsuccessful tries.

The reason though that today we know about MJ, Harry Potter and light bulbs, is because these people never gave up. They took their losses and came back stronger, eventually breaking through and changing the world because of it. They failed to succeed, but instead of their final result being failure when they were trying to succeed, they failed IN ORDER TO succeed.


When asked how it felt to fail so many times while building the light bulb, Thomas Edison said, “I didn’t fail 1000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1000 steps.”

For many of us, our lives can also feel like long, tough processes with lots of steps- many of which end in failure. But rather than looking at failure as something that cripples us and that should be avoided at all times, we should instead view failure as an opportunity for more success, more growth and more experiences.

Failure is not an easy pill to swallow. While it is nice when our first try at something is successful, the reality is that there are going to be plenty of times when we swing for the fences and instead strike out and fall flat on our face. Rejection, humiliation, defeat, failure; all experiences we go through at times.

But in that failure, there lies an opportunity: a chance to become an even better player because of those missed swings, and those experiences.

Joy In Failure

In failure, we have an opportunity to stand back up. We have the chance to acknowledge we’ve failed, brush off our shoulders and try again in search of something even greater.

One of my favorite verses of the Bible ever comes from James 1:2-4, where it says “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

These verses show the value of trials and failures, because through these it is possible to become even stronger and more resilient sons and daughters of God. We should be happy and “consider it all joy” whenever we try something and fail, because persistence pays off and our perseverance gets better and better. It’s tough, but it’s worth it to recognize the failure and try again, because the more you fail but try again, the more you increase your chance for success.

Here is a short lesson from Tom Hopkins, a renowned sales coach: If you’re trying to sell something for $50, but only make a sale every one in ten tries, then that means each failure is worth $5! The process of failing is instrumental to taking real, physical steps towards success.

For anyone reading this and thinking they’d still rather steer clear of failure and not even get in the water in the first place, here is something J.K. Rowling said about failure: “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you fail by default.”

Set Sail

We cannot live our lives avoiding or being scared of failure. If we’re focused more on not failing instead of being focused on succeeding, then we are settling for a life of mediocrity and comfort. John A. Shedd said it best- “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are built for.” Failure should be seen as a stepping-stone that teaches a lesson, not a stumbling block that hinders or halts.

Accept failure, but do not EXPECT failure. If you can fix a problem on the first try, praise God. If it takes one million tries to fix a problem, praise God. No matter what, examine where you fail, why you fail and what you need to do differently.

Michael Jordan may have been one of the greatest basketball players of all time, but he still recognized his failures.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

My prayer for you is that you have the strength and courage to meet failure head on and use it to your advantage on the pathway to more success. It doesn’t matter how many times you fail. It only matters how many times you get back up.


About the Author

Jay Martin

Somehow ended up on a bus to Covecrest at the age of 14 and hasn't looked back since. Reverently trill at all times. Your youth group's favorite DJ. Enjoys Whataburger, good music and leading teens closer to Christ. Holla at me: @Jay__Martin

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