I Am A Failure

I Am A Faiure
So you are a failure, huh? Let me get one thing off of my virtual chest right now: You’re not. I realize you may be experiencing failure. You may have had a string of failures. You may have been told you are a failure. But it doesn’t mean that is who you are. You are not a failure, except for one caveat. You are a failure if that is who you decided to be.

But before I prove you are not a failure, I want to share a personal story. Oh, and by the way, when I said “my virtual chest” I didn’t say that because you are reading my blog post. I say it because my muscle definition is equivalent to Tweety bird’s. If that little yellow feathered turd and I got into a fight, he would own me.

I Am A Failure

My little story. I am an entrepreneur. In years past, I was an entrepreneur in the traditional sense, starting businesses and growing them. Today I am an author, which not-so-interestingly, is just like any other form of business, you need to sell what do and do what you do, really well. The only difference is instead of having thirty employees reporting to you, you have one part time assistant. . . who is either in India or is a family member or both.

I have failed a lot. I have lost all my money. I have crashed more start-ups than I have grown. I have offended probably everyone (including myself a couple times). And now I am failing at my fastest rate ever. Why?

I have set an absurdly massive perception (AMP) for myself: I am the most prolific business author of this century. (Note: There is a reason I use “I am“, instead of “I will be,” and you need to, too.)

Talk about failure. If you asked anyone on the street. I mean, anyone, including my mother how “prolific” I am. They would say, who’s this asshole you’re talking about. (Note: My mom wouldn’t call me an asshole, she would call me a douche.) But here’s the deal, failure is the ONLY way to success. Every day I take a shot at achieving my vision, and fail. And regardless of what your vision is, the only way you will get there is by failing your way to it.

Good Failure vs. Bad Failure

Failure is failure. It is neither good nor bad. It is how you interpret it that determines its value. People who see failure as good, know the “it.”

Someone once told me that when you fail once, you are given a chance to learn. If you fail a second time, your ignorant. You know what? They lied. Failure isn’t just about learning, its really about testing your commitment and finding clarity. Failure simply asks, “How bad do you want it?” Once you know the “it” failure becomes a ladder that you climb. But when you experience bad failure, the kind that keeps you in the muck of depression, you haven’t defined “it” yet.

The Turning Point

Henry David Thoreau is credited with variations of this saying: “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and die with their song still inside them.” Quiet desperation happens when you haven’t hit rock bottom yet. Quiet desperation is a never ending free-fall with no bottom. You don’t hit the bottom that you can bounce off.

If you are experiencing quiet desperation, it’s time to hit the floor. It is actually easy to do. You simply need to admit that you are living a life of quiet desperation. And, I suspect since you already are saying “I am a failure,” you are at the floor. That’s good news, its the turning point.

It is like an alcoholic saying I “don’t have a drinking problem.” Until you accept your reality, you can’t change it. So, as ironic as it is, congratulations on making your “I am a failure” decree. You have put yourself much closer to recovery.

The next step? Seek out your “it.”

What’s The It

I have studied the difference between people who see failure as yet further proof of who they are, and others who see failure as another step up the ladder. The difference? People who use failure to climb, have absolute clarity on their life’s purpose. People buried by failure, lack purpose.

You would think there was other differences, right? How about the difference of their upbringing (or lack thereof)? What about financial circumstances? Abuse? Relationships? Luck? Bad luck? All irrelevant. No matter how tragic their story or how wonderful their luck, it had no influence on if people felt they were a failure or not. The only difference was if the person, regardless of their circumstances, was living life with purpose or not.

Find Purpose

If you want to stop being buried by failure, you need to define your life’s purpose. And, if you don’t know what your life’s purpose is. . . you life’s purpose (at least for now) is to find your life’s purpose. Constantly ask yourself, why am I here? What do I need to do? And be willing to listen to the answers that you present yourself. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to discover the answer, since every time you fail to find it, you get closer to finding it. See, you are already using failure as a ladder.

When you find your purpose, you will get into the groove – where you hidden talents reveal themselves and you lose the sense of time. You are living your purpose when you build energy as you do it. You’re living your purpose, when you experience failure and you see it as another step up the ladder.

My Virtual Chest

And regards to my virtual chest situation.  I am done with that bad failure, and am now a weight room loyalist. Interestingly I am now experiencing good failure constantly (those damn weights are heavy).

Tweety bird can go suck it.

And if you are ready to finally have your failure suck it, read this little story about flying lawn chairs.




46 thoughts on “I Am A Failure”

  1. Great post Mike and so true – it is all down to how you perceive what is happening in your life and where you are. Even when I have been in a not so great place financially or had less clients than i really wanted, was stuck without knowing the next way to turn, I always looked at what I HAD achieved in my life, the great things i have done, the times when I achieved whatever I set out to achieve and everything in my life and recognised that I am a success!

    Sometimes we focus so much on one aspect of our lives ie: current business and if that isnt working then tell ourselves a story about being a failure and having to give up, but when you look at everything in your life at the same time then you can ALWAYS find the bits that you did well, he successes, the amazing things you have learnt, achieved, created and put your perceived “failure” into context as simply something that didn’t quite work out how you wanted it to.

  2. This is exactly what I needed to read this morning. Each and every day I second guess myself and my motivation to keep going (in business) even when times a bleak. I know my purpose and I will keep going… success or failure. Thank you Mike!

  3. Hi Mike, When you win prizes for your writing and become a best seller, please do try reverse and jump into the Ocean Shipping Business, one of the most difficult businesses to master. You have to deal with all the countries of the world, currencies, products, labor. politics, dictators etc. I do Enjoy your writings Pumpkin Man.

  4. Love this post! All rings true! I recently met a guy from the Silicon Valley area. He actually said they wear failed start-ups as a badge of honor! The more failure the better! It immediately put failure into perspective for me.

  5. Great Article, MIke. It is also the fear of failure that a lot of people do not follow their dreams, which is tragic.
    One of my favorite comedians is Sebastian Maniscalco. When he first started in comedy people were beyond mean to him when he was on stage. He not only feared failing on stage but getting hurt by projectiles that were thrown at him. It was not an easy, but he was able to learn from the failures which equated to better timing, material, facial expressions and use of silence. It was from failing that has made him so successful today. Maybe that is why he latest DVD is called “What is Wrong With People.”
    Would you really be that happy at your so called “success destination” if you did not have to overcome a few ugly “bumps” along your journey? It is overcoming these “bumps” that better define us and not our actual success.

      1. He comes to Phoenix every now and again, We have seen him twice now. We purchased the DVD on Amazon. He sure is funny. I am glad to hear that you also like him. I think he is the funniest comedians out there and he is not vulgar.

  6. You’re a goofy dude, Mike. Some days I can take it and some days I can’t. Today I can and really grabbed onto the ‘life’s purpose’ message. Thanks, friend.

  7. Right on mike! I had one of those days yesterday- today a new plan to tackle the failure- its sort of like a maze, constantly turning and bumping into walls, finding your way to the light!

  8. Great article! When you put aside your upbringing, financial circumstance, etc, you can stop being the perpetual victim. Finding your purpose puts you (me) in control.

  9. Thanks Mike! Your blog post is perfect timing, while I spend moments shifting what I have learned and accomplished. “It’s all good”.

  10. Mike, no matter how many different methods I use, how much time I spend in self-observation, how many times I ask the people who know me…I cannot identify my talents or what my ‘purpose’ might be. I am bright, skilled, educated, experienced, productive and, occasionally, have been successful. Yet I have NO idea what I’m meant to be doing, what will make my heart sing and be a valuable contribution to the world.

    For the last ten years, maybe fifty percent of the articles I read tell me “do what you love” and “find your purpose” (and “seek out your ‘it'”!). The other fifty percent tell me how to identify “what I love” and “how to find my purpose”, but I’m no closer. And I’m more and more frustrated.

    Is this the ‘quiet desperation’ Thoreau spoke of?!

    1. I can understand your position – I only figured this out for myself at the age of 41 after years of quiet desperation, and similar search for the “do what you love thing”.

      There’s a serious problem with that approach though – you are trying to find the path before you know the destination.

      Once you have a destination decided upon that you have also committed to achieve or die trying the path will present itself with little or no effort on your part.

      I spent a short time deciding on the destination (goal) I wanted to arrive at and the time it would take to get there.

      For me the destination was a certain amount of money and a 5 year time scale.

      Once that was set I went about raising my desire for the goal using all the tricks the self improvement world has to offer.

      “You may as well know, right here, that you can never have riches in
      great quantities, UNLESS you can work yourself into a white heat of
      DESIRE for money, and actually BELIEVE you will possess it.”

      Napoleon Hill.

      After a fairly short amount of time my desire was so strong I was generating ideas and way to build a path to me goal.

      It’s been 2 year now, and financially I have a long way to go, but I’m now running a business I love and have at least 3 current initiatives that have the potential to take me where I want to go.

      One in particular has huge potential and if realised will take me ten times higher than my goal.

      But it just started with a decision – what did I want to achieve.

      … make your decision now and don’t worry about making mistakes or missing it, you can always create another destination.

      One last key ingredient – persistence – will ultimately get you there – never give up.

      “Nothing can resist the human will that will stake even its existence on its stated purpose. ”
      Disraeli, Benjamin

    2. Hi Rachel, you may not realize it now but, you’re one step closer to knowing. Often times when you don’t know, its better than knowing. Stop. look. and listen to the voice within you. Think about what you do naturally that’s connected to Love, Joy and Passion. These three elements should be connected and will be the “Yes” this is it, when you find it. I’m not saying or asking if you do or not; when you get down on your knees and pray, you humble yourself, your heart opens up, to receive more. You have the answer within. Trust Him. Ask Him. Not man!

  11. I like to think of it as failing forward……each time I feel like I am failing I find the “what am I learning” in all of this and am a bigger smarty pants at the end of the whole ordeal!

  12. I appreciate your insight. Sometimes it’s hard to deal with feelings of failure but realizing there is a purpose for failure makes refocusing and getting back on track that much easier.

  13. Once again, you are speaking the truth! I am where I am because I have failed lots of times along the way. We can learn from our failures and climb up the ladder, or just stay at the bottom licking our wounds.

    Awhile back I was talking to my daughter about it being okay to make mistakes, the important thing being that she is putting herself out there and trying. I told her I’ve made a lot of mistakes as I’ve built my business. Being 6, she wasn’t satisfied with my general statement that I’d made “a lot of mistakes.” She wanted to know how many. I told her at least 5,000. She was happy with that.

  14. Knowing where you are going can be very difficult, sometimes you start the journey before realizing that the journey is leading no where; That is when you know you have failed and desperation set in. I am more confused about my destination than my start.

  15. Mike you have been an inspiration to me, you give me strength to press hard despite of all adversities i face in my business

  16. Very good pst Mike. I reaized the other day as I was taliking to my wife about some new awesome things we are doing in our marriage that one of the reasons I refused to accept failure was because I never lost the sense of what it was about. It was and is about giving her and my son the best I can provide to them . Yes I failed along the way but in smaller ways, kind of like tacking at sea and finding your way to your destination. Of course, when it come to my business, future businesses and goals, it’s not as clear cut yet but I am sure it will get clearer over time. I just need to use those failures as an inpulse to move forward and not something that will hold me back.

  17. Loved your post Mike, after all when a reporter came and asked Edison, “How many times are you going to fail at
    creating the light bulb?” Mr. Edison replied, “Son, I haven’t failed!
    I’ve simply discovered another way NOT to invent the light bulb!”

  18. Great insight Mike. This got the ThinkTank Panel (of One) consideing the implications of purpose, and what it really means to fail at something. Having purpose is key to making failure productive, because purpose gives us intention, direction or at least expectation. In fact, with out purpose, it isnt really failure. Too often we “give it a try” which means we are there, we may even be participating, but mainly just waiting for something to happen, we don’t know what. When nothing seems to happen, we call it a failure and blame ourselves, saying we must not be good enough etc. The real failure is the failure to to have a goal or objective to achieve, no basis to evaluate ourselves and learn from the experience, whether it is successful or not. In science we are taught to hypothsise, experiment, evaluate, revise, repeat. Science does not prove things conclusively, it mearly keeps pointing us closer and closer to the truth. Failure is an essential part of that process, where as “Let’s see what happens” is a tactic we use to generate hope and excitement. It’s a shame and really quite illogical to waste this hope and excitement by incubating our purpose from risk when that hope and excitement would more likely be a spring with which to rebound off of failure instead of being a cushion crushed by it.

  19. I literally read this every week as my motivational speech. Thank you so much for helping me accept failure as a way to be better, smarter and more prepared. I honestly can’t give you enough thanks!!

  20. I know that I am a failure. But I can’t except it in front of the word. I ca’t except the reality because there is mirage about me in my society that I am a good student. Everyone in my family ( my first cousins ) are best at what they do. I feel sorry for myself and I am ashamed that even after my parents provided me everything I ever wanted I have not been able to fullfill there only wish. And my question is what if I know my purpose in life but dosen’t know how to achive it….

    1. Hi Shivam – I feel that failure is to do what we are called to do. Failure happens when we don’t answer our passion and purpose. Doing what others expect of us is NOT success, because our heart will punish us every day.

      Perhaps the first thing to do is to tell your family and friends what your heart calls out to do. They may support you or they may become angry. You know which is most likely. But either way you are being true to who you are.

      Either way, ask yourself, every day, how to do your life’s purpose. If you ask enough times, the answers will reveal themselves. I am sure of that.

      – Mike

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