20 Iconic Quotes On Failure That Will Inspire You To Succeed

If Thomas Edison had believed in failure… we would still be living in darkness. If Henry Ford had given up, we would still be riding on horseback…if Alexander Graham Bell had given in to the clutches of failure, we would be spending less time staring at those small plastic things we call phones that rule our lives (which might not be a bad thing!).

On a serious note – anyone who has achieved ANYTHING great, anyone who has CHANGED THE WORLD has at some point made a choice to embrace failure instead of fighting it.

If you look at the most inspirational innovators, athletes, geniuses, and icons throughout history, they all shared a common belief – they simply did not entertain the notion of failure as a bad thing.

Instead, they understood that every failure encountered brings you one step closer to success, and that this is a natural part of the process. Some even enjoyed failure!

If you think about it, failure is just feedback; it’s simply showing you what’s not working so you can find out what will work. It’s necessary and can’t be avoided.

If we didn’t have failure, how would we know what to do next? The process of learning from our mistakes is truly invaluable, and is something we need to run toward, not run away from.

Below are a selection of quotes on the topic of failure from 20 iconic people, each of whom has achieved something great and is talking from his or her own unique experience. 

Today, let’s celebrate these wonderful souls who chose to embrace failure with open arms. Maybe, just maybe, their words of wisdom will help us to do the same.

1. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” - Thomas Edison

2. “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” - Winston Churchill

3. “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.” - Henry Ford

4. “Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.” - Confucious

5. “In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.” - Bill Cosby

6. “Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.” - Dale Carnegie

7. “Failure is success if we learn from it.” - Malcolm Forbes

8. “I’ve come to believe that all my past failure and frustrations were actually laying the foundation for the understandings that have created the new level of living I now enjoy.” - Tony Robbins

9. “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.” - Colin Powell

10. “It is fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” - Bill Gates

11. “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of a greater or equal benefit.” - Napoleon Hill

12. “Like success, failure is many things to many people. With Positive Mental Attitude, failure is a learning experience, a rung on the ladder, a plateau at which to get your thoughts in order and prepare to try again.” - W. Clement Stone

13. “The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.” - Buddha

14. “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with failure.” - Abraham Lincoln

15. “Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t waste energy trying to cover up failure. Learn from your failures and go on to the next challenge. It’s ok to fail. If you’re not failing, you’re not growing.” - H. Stanley Judd

16. “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failing is another steppingstone to greatness.” - Oprah Winfrey

17. “Remember that failure is an event, not a person.” - Zig Ziglar

18. “Failure after long perseverance is much grander than never to have a striving good enough to be called a failure.” - George Eliot

19. “Why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.” - J.K. Rowling

20. “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six 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.” - Michael Jordan


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Zoë B is an established Life Coach, Author and Founder of the SimpleLifeStrategies blog. Zoë has developed an incredibly powerful yet simple system that when practiced, can significantly lower stress levels – with as little as 5 minutes practice per day. You can try the first three chapters of the LESS STRESS course for free now.

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