The Men Who Failed 1,000 Times

Welcome to the club. That’s what you hear when you tell someone about your bad day at work. They go through the same shit you do. But that’s the magic of being human. We are all the same, we breathe the same, and most of all we bleed the same. So what makes the ordinary extraordinary? What makes the smart, smart? The dumb, dumb? Effort, it’s the only thing we can control. I’m learning about effort in a whole new light these days. Effort is the gas that keeps our entrepreneur engine going. Even taking the topic slightly off of entrepreneurship, effort is what it takes to succeed at virtually anything.  I never looked at it that way before. I was blind, but now I see.  So why do most people lack effort? Pain.

We hate to be hurt. That girl didn’t return your call? Stings. That failed meeting that cost you money? Ouch. That punch in the face from MMA practice? Get the ice. These are all painful no doubt, but the biggest pain of them all is regret. Nothing is more painful than knowing if you didn’t eat those extra Twinkies, you would be 5 pounds lighter. If you wasn’t scared to take that shot, your team would be champions. Regret hurts so much more than most pains, but it’s the most suffered pain of all.  We all feel pain, but how do we all use pain?


jimrohnPerception is powerful. Pain from failure can make you quit right on the spot, but depending on how you view it, it can be a motivator. Failure is nothing but a opportunity to try again, if you view it that way of course. Another analogy I think is great is the pain you get from working out. You get sore and defeated at the gym repeatedly, but you know once you heal you will feel like Superman. Failure is no different, your getting stronger.

Who are some of these people who failed multiple times before reaching greatness? I wanted to highlight two of my favorites, but this isn’t hardly scratching the surface of the men and women who put in work night and day.

Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison had so many failures. I just read about his failed cement company not too long ago. He had a cement company?  Exactly. Who the hell recognizes and remembers failures when its followed up with success? Here is a man who teachers said was too stupid to learn anything. He overcame that and became one of the worlds most famous inventors.  In 1878 Thomas Edison experimenting with incandescent lights, tested 6,000 different iterations before finding the one that worked. A news reporter once asked Edison “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” His answer after that gives us the biggest clue of them all: “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.” Perception.

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is a story we are all familiar with. He was cut from his varsity high school basketball team, they said he was too short. That didn’t stop him, he played phenomenal basketball on the junior squad, and made an even bigger splash once he got into the varsity the following year. He couldn’t control his growth, he played with the cards he was dealt. Effort. Even in the NBA we ignore the many failures Jordan himself acknowledges.  Are you willing to miss a shot 9,000 times? In his own words:


I wrote this post because I was inspired by a recent quote I read. It said “Genius is persistence in disguise.” These men you see above, they are no different from you. The only thing they did was not quit. They kept going, they kept hustling. I used Obama in the main picture because so many of the ideas he feel can move the country forward, die in the hands of congress. The healthcare law however is huge and historical, no matter what your opinion is on it, he will most likely be remembered for “Obamacare.” I say that to say this. We fail 1,000 times, people only see the success. The world will only remember you for your failures, if that’s where you stop. That’s if they even remember you at all.

You want to succeed? Fail 1,000 times.

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