Monday Mornings with Madison


We are always looking for ways to succeed. We focus our thoughts and energy into finding new ways to reach the wonderful land of “success.” But, success is not a destination. It’s a feeling you get while pursuing your vision in life. And because of that, the real question is not how do we succeed, but rather how to stay on track — moving toward our life’s vision even when obstacles show up on the way.

Ironically, if the definition of success is the pursuit of our vision, that pursuit will never end because the more we achieve, the higher our standards and goals will become. Real success is a constant pursuit of ways to overcome the challenges we face and to grow because of those challenges. Based on this concept of success we have to keep on failing in order to achieve success.

So, if in order to succeed we have to become experts in failing, the question is: when was the last time you went to a seminar or bought a book on how to fail? Successful people will fail as often, if not more often, than less successful people will. But they fail on different kinds of measures than other people do. To fail successfully you want to change your perception of what failure is.

Successful people look at failure in one of the following ways:

Their built- in test to reject mediocrity

When they fail they see it as a sign that they didn’t do their best. Since they need to become the best at whatever they do, failure is a warning sign that tells them, “You can do better than that!” So, they go to work to find out how to improve themselves and do a better job the next time.

It builds their sense of humor

Failing is an opportunity to look at yourself and laugh. Although you thought that this effort (whatever it may have been) was going to work great, something happened and it got messed up. Isn’t it interesting?

How would life look if we succeeded at everything we tried to do? If you think that constant success would make life amazing…think again! We would be miserable and bored. We need the excitement. Success without the possibility of failure has no meaning.

It’s an opportunity to step back and regroup

Failure makes you stop and rethink your journey. Think of it as if you were traveling on a train. The train of our busy, fast-moving lives has pulled into a station and from that station there are different trains you can board to move in different directions. Some people will take a train that will bring them back to the same station — and, the same failure, quickly. Others will look for a train that will take them further along in their journey. They use each stop (failure) as a good opportunity to check the map and make sure they are on the right track.

Failure is a good indicator of the skills you need to improve

Successful people are always looking to improve their skills. When they fail, they sit back and look at which skill they need to improve. So if this challenge comes up again, they will be ready to deal with it.

They didn’t fail — their strategy did

Failure simply means it’s time to regroup and start again. Successful people see themselves as successful regardless of whether or not they fail in any given incident or endeavor. They are successful because they know what they want and where they are going. A failure is just an indication to them that this particular strategy is not the best way to reach their goals. So, they will try something else immediately. The reason they can do that is because they did not fail as a person, so there is a successful human being available to try a different strategy.

A temporary inconvenience on the way to achieve a higher cause

If you don’t know where you are going, any failure will set you back. Successful people always make sure that they are striving for something that’s important enough to be worth failing for. If your desire for success and your values are interconnected, this connection will create a strong drive that will force you to move on after each failure. When your vision is combined with your values this is the strongest force available to human beings to keep going when the journey gets tough.


Think about the last three failures that you had.
What did you learn from them?
What was the strategy or skill that caused the failure?
What skill can you improve to help you deal with the same issue when it comes up again?
What new strategy can you implement based on what you learned?


“Each success only buys an admission ticket to a more difficult problem.”
Henry Kissinger

“People fail forward to success.” Mary Kay Ash


How have you grown from your failures?
Where would you be today without your failures?
Who do you know who has grown from their failures? How?

© 2007 – 2012, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.

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