How do you respond to failure?


by Kenneth justice

~ Yesterday I ran into a client I hadn’t talked to in awhile and they weren’t in the best of moods,

Kenneth, every single project I’ve worked on this past year keeps turning sour. I’m pretty much at my wits end and I’m thinking about giving up and changing careers” he said

I suspect most people have dealt with failure at some point or another in their life. Whether it was a failed relationship, job, vocational task, or fill-in-the-blank. Failure is as much apart of life as success, and in many circumstances we end up failing more often than we succeed.

Various research studies have suggested that younger generations respond to failure more dramatically than older generations due to a disillusionment on the part of young adults; they believe they can “do” anything, and when they find out life is much harder than they had anticipated, they end up taking it a lot harder than perhaps is needed.

Television, movies, and the Internet sell us a narrative that we are the next big story waiting to happen; all we need is a good voice, decent looks, or a clever idea and in the blink of an eye we could be an overnight sensation. The Internet and social networks are chock full of rags-to-riches success stories, people who posted a simple idea on a crowdfunding site and within days had raised a million dollars. Last year I had more than a dozen people tell me about “Potato salad-dude” who raised $50 thousand dollars to make his first ever bowl of potato salad, as though this kind of thing is something ‘any’ of us could obtain. 

Success stories sell and capture the publics attention; failure stories do not sell, and the simple fact of the matter is that for every single guy who raises thousands of dollars to make potato salad, there are millions of people who fail miserable.

The narrative of a relatively unknown Senator from Illinois bursting through the political ranks to become President is one we’ve all heard; some people believe any of us can be the next Barack Obama, but it doesn’t work that way. People tend to focus on President Obama’s achievements rather than the many obstacles he endured along his journey;

—) Decades of monotonous church attendance at an important church (albeit nutty) church in Chicago

—) Depression, massive debt, and a marriage on the rocks following a political loss in a 2000 election

—) Constantly having to appease the lobbyists who helped him along the way, President Obama has had to give up nearly every single campaign promise in order to keep the peace with the people who fund him

President Obama is a good example of failure; someone who kept at it despite constant failure at many different turns. Yet the narrative that people more often than not spin, is success, because success sells and failure isn’t hip.

The blogging world is full of failure. Every day tens of thousands of people start new blogs, and every day tens of thousands of people give up after not gaining any readers. The blogging world is a difficult place to make a name for yourself; there are bloggers around the world who are actively trying to be number one in order to pad their ego or ‘become famous’. If you’re a blogger who wants to write about important topics, it’s difficult to garner a following when you’re up against other bloggers who write trite little stories about their sexual encounters, dropping in salacious details to entice people to read their triviality over you.

The business world is full of failure. People set out into a career with a massive amount of gusto and then a few years down the line they realize their particular industry is rather monotonous and boring, yet the obstacles they face in switching careers often seem to be too difficult to surmount.

How we respond to failure demonstrates the bricks of which we are made. How we respond to failure tell us a lot about ourselves. It is through failure that we find out who we really are; anyone can be a happy and joyful person when they are experiencing success. The real question is whether or not we will be joyful in the face of failure or whether we will give ourselves over to despair. As Paul said, “My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials”.

Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee this morning,


Categories: Culture & Society

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17 replies

  1. True talk my dear…I think we have the same kind of mind. I enterd into a business and failed totally it even become a debt that am still paying every month, but it has ever put me off to make another attempt despite what my friends says, their discouraging word and using my past failure to prevent me. A friend of mine who also venture into the business I was doing also faced some losses which discourage him, he gave up because he cannot bear the loss and started following rich stories and businesses that make people rich within a few period, he then lost massively. So is true that we young adult of today are not able to wistand failure I wish every young adult can read this. Good job.

    • one of the most difficult element in failure is when friends/family/acquaintances discourage us following the failure. One would think that people would come to our aid and be encouraging when we fail, but more often than not they don’t.

      Great comment 🙂

    • Exactly dear…..what they usually say is ” I told you and you didn’t not listen” instead of saying some words of encouraging and helping you to figure out the cause of the failure no they will not do that.

  2. I love failure stories because they are so often also success stories. Michael Jordan and Thomas Edison are two examples of people who failed many, many times before becoming successful and then failed again after becoming successful and still kept on trying. I think stories of failure like these will actually encourage people to keep trying and work harder, tweak some things here or there, or sometimes just move on to something else, but always, always go after your dream. It may just be God telling you ‘not yet’ or guiding you where he wants you to go.

  3. Hello Kenneth, so pleased to be able to read one of your posts while I sip my tea. I really enjoyed the paragraph about BO and his attendance at a ‘Nutty’ church.

    And then you, your thoughts about the blogging world. I hate the drivel I find on FB: the meme’s, clichéd sentiments, The Jerry Springer style outpourings of personal life,etc. Which is why I very rarely write anything which would appeal to that type of audience. So it really is refreshing to read the clarity of your writing.

    But sex sells, as in the case of E.L James. Everybody I know said it was writing at it’s worst. But people bought the books, the underwear, the market stall tat and then went to the movie.

    One of our faculty advised that if you want to get noticed, you have to do exactly what OB did, ditch your ethics and give people what they want.

    You started writing about your travels which is what drew me to your blog. But now the focus has shifted, and is no less welcome.

    Best regards

  4. Sometimes it’s what Edison said … you’ve found another way how it does not work. Sometimes those stories do sell, we call them dramas, don’t we. Nice piece of writing. Keep on blogging in a free world – The False Prophet

  5. Even failure is composed of a lot of things which worked. For example, your friend is still alive, with a bushel full of experience – and it’s a year later. I write lots of things, and rarely get any comments. But, I like to write, and it gets a lot of things out of my head to allow new things in. That part works. I think your friend should look back over his year with an eye to what he did that worked.

  6. Failure destroys hope while success encourages it. The trick is to make your faith in yourself so strong that no amount of failure can penetrate the shield of hope you’ve wrapped yourself up in. Not an easy task by any means but necessary for survival. Of course it’s a fine line between a strong belief in your ability to overcome obstacles/failure and an over-inflated sense of self worth that comes across as mere arrogance, but when you get it right then you can deal with the multitude of shit life throws at you and know that “this too shall pass.” Sometimes I wish they would teach perseverance as a mandatory class in elementary school.

  7. As far as blogging goes, I’m so new at it that I’ve set the bar pretty low. So that means I am a screaming success!

  8. This is a good topic.. If we didn’t have failures, we probably wouldn’t have achieved anything. Failures are our best teachers in life..because they teach us to analise and take actions. Even if you’re an artistic person and don’t tend to analisis at all.. you start to analise your actions that turned into the failure in the end. You learn to critisize yourself and yet stay confident in yourself. We start to work much harded to prove that we’ll make it and improve our results.. so no wonder that failures lead to success.. In most cases we just start to work…and act in a right way… but we could say what was the right way only after the failure happened. I’m writing songs…and most of them based on personal experience..including some negative moments like these.. Not all songs was accepted by the managers.. to others that would mean failure.. but for’s another point to think of. How to improve the song so that they’ll take it.. if for us it seems commercially successful.Thank you for talking about it.. Sorry if I have mistakes. Not native speaker)

  9. The question is: When do you give up? I mean, if the odds are against you and you are putting yourself further and further into debt chasing a dream that, while it seems solid and sound, may be unrealistic, when do you just throw in the towel and say, “Well, we learned something… I think. Time for a new dream.”

  10. Good article Ken. My generation came from parents that didn’t encourage very much – so, we as parents tend to encourage more than what we got – and now we see our children and grandchildren being told they can achieve anything (which they can) BUT fail to show them the hard knocks of getting there.
    Being human is hard – LOL
    Parenting is hard – life’s lessons are hard. LOL
    Thank you for blogging…
    😀 cate b

  11. Nice thoughts Kenneth. Sometimes I laugh and call myself, “The man who hurts his friends”. Kinda takes the edge off of trying to be perfect if perfection isn’t possible for you, hah.

  12. Well, that was well-written and thought, so, thank you.

    I think everything in the life, Universe has dual characteristics. What if we don’t label it as “failure”, only the part of path to grow and mature? When you go for a hike, there is a clear objective in the beginning, however, in the wood there is no chance to see it, there is mud, steep sides, rocks, and many time we need to go around and down to go up later. And only at the very end we can see, we are there.
    Yet, clear air can fill our lungs, and our muscles are exercised.

    Maybe gratitude is important, too, in this way…

    Have a Blessed Day!

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