The Secret to Success…is Failure!

mjordan_successLast week I had the pleasure of being the guest on pro photographer and author Dane Sander‘s group coaching session via his series. One of the questions posed by a person on the call was, “when is the best time to make the leap from part time to full time?” That is an age-old question for small business entrepreneurs.

I believe that a primary reason some entrepreneurs don’t take the plunge is a fear of failure, and all that implies (not making rent, looking like a fool, the sting of rejection, etc.)  In fact, I would contend, it’s this fear of failure that is a greater de-motivator than just not having enough revenue coming in from the business. The irony is, until you fail, you man NEVER succeed.


There are countless stories of famous individuals, people who represent the epitome of success in their field, yet dealt with significant failures in life before achieving success:

  • Edison and the thousands of tries at the light bulb.
  • President Lincoln string of political and business set backs before becoming one of the most revered presidents in American history.
  • Personal finance educator, self-made millionaire, nationally syndicated radio host, and motivational speaker David Ramsey became a millionaire in his mid 20s, then suffered a devastating financial bankruptcy near the age of 30.
  • The adhesive used on StickieNotes(TM) was originally intended by 3M to be a super glue.
  • Yours truly ran for 8th grade, 9th grade, and 10th grade class president and lost every time, before becoming junior and senior class president and being one of six in my class to get the outstanding senior award which is voted on by fellow classmates. (Well, this point is probably not as famous as the others, but I wanted to at least share some personal examples in my life. 🙂 .

Perhaps one of my favorite “failure” stories comes from the now famous success poster of  Michael Jordan. It reads:

“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.”

So, what’s keeping you from making that leap? Is it a fear of failure? Then embrace it. And start on your path to success.

7 thoughts on “The Secret to Success…is Failure!

  1. Ron, a very inspiring post. This is something I will definitely look up to a few years from now when I feel that I am ready to jump to a full-time bases. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I agree, most people fail to start, much less fail trying. Here is another take for you: I have what I will call the “1% Rule”. I don’t think there are large changes that we can truly make on a regular basis to our business or to ourselves. Those come very rarely. People get frustrated that they can never make anything happen with those ideas and never even try to get it off the ground.

    But I do believe we should all look for 1% change that we can do today.

    If you think about it, if you change or improve 1% a day or even a week, think how fast that adds up. If you try that 1% and fail, so what! Right? But those little changes and improvements can add to have a true difference.

    PS: Congrats on being class president! 🙂

  3. Ron
    Thank you for the inspiration today. It is the pick me up I needed today. I took the leap and I see the pattern of the success stories which are encouraging. Thanks, Ron

  4. Great post and video Ron. The question of “When am I ready?” is a timeless classic that plagues entrepreneurs, soon-to-be-parents … you name it. I don’t think it even has an answer except maybe: “You’re ready when you’re ready to fail … and get back up. When you’re ready to take the risk, you’re ready.”

    This is a timely post for me b/c I’ll be leaving my full-time Flash developer job to do photography / video on Apr 15. Am I *totally* “ready”? Maybe, maybe not … but maybe that’s not what’s required after all.

    Thanks for all you do to inspire, Ron, keep up the great work.

    – Ray Pryor

  5. Ron, thank you for this post. Like many, I needed to hear this message today. I’ve always believed that failure was a great teacher; thank you for reminding me. I have failed and continue to fail, I’ve thought of throwing in the towel last night but today, your message has inspired me. It reminds me that though I’m on my back, my pockets are empty and I’m surrounded by the incarnated friends of Job, there is no other way but up. It’s been tough these last couple of months but these economic times have graced me with the ability to experiment with my business and it’s also proven to me how solid my marriage is.

    Much love to you and yours
    Carlos Valentino

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