Mistakes and Failures

Mistakes and Failures

Friday, May 10, 2019


mis·take /m?’stak/ noun.
1. an action or judgment that is misguided or wrong.
“coming to this place was a mistake”
synonyms: error, fault, inaccuracy, omission, slip, blunder, miscalculation, misunderstanding, flaw, oversight, misinterpretation, fallacy, gaffe, faux pas;


fail·ure /’faly?r/ noun.
1. lack of success.
informal: fizzling out, fiasco, debacle, catastrophe, disaster, blunder, vain attempt, defeat;
informal” flop, botch, hash, foul-up, screwup, washout, fail;
2. the omission of expected or required action.
“they had a failure to comply with the basic rules”
synonyms: negligence, remissness, nonobservance, nonperformance, dereliction;


These are some of the dictionary definitions of the words “mistake” and “failure”. Basically a mistake is a n inaccuracy, a blunder, or miscalculation. While a failure is falling short of success or failing to fulfill or perform. If you compare the two there are a lot of similarities whereas failure appears to be more the more extreme of the two but they both involve blunders or a “flop”. Basically something not going through as expected.

Also compare that with setback below:


set·back /’set?bak/ noun.

1.  a reversal or check in progress.
"a serious setback for space travel"
synonyms:    problem, difficulty, issue, hitch, complication, disappointment, misfortune, mishap, piece of bad luck, unfortunate development, reversal, reverse of fortune; 

In this case a setback doesn’t involve necessarily a mistake on a person’s end or a total catastrophic outcome and so in terms of severity perhaps the order from least to greatest would likely be setback, mistake, failure.

A lot of people however are too fixated on certain outcomes and only concentrate on the negative aspects rather than the opportunity to solve a problem and learn from the experience.

A common training technique that is often taught to salespersons such as those selling cars or products is to give the example of the Abraham Lincoln list of “Failures” and “Successes”. Part of life is projecting a bit of confidence in order to get far enough to continue to the next step. And there are a few ways to have this type of confidence. A person can either get words of encouragement, learn the behavior over and over enough to perform with enough proficiency, or to “fake it till you make it”. Often it is a combination of various different factors and techniques.
Here are some examples of his failures and successes.

Abraham Lincoln had many failures:

  • he lost his job
  • was defeated for state legislature
  • failed in a business venture
  • his sweetheart died
  • had a nervous breakdown
  • defeated for speaker
  • defeated for nomination to Congress
  • Defeated for Senate twice
  • Defeated for nomination to Vice President

But he also had many successes including

  • being elected company captain of a militia
  • being appointed to postmaster for a period of time.
  • being nominated for a local House Speaker and serving as floor leader
  • gaining the ability to practice law and set up his own law practice
  • getting elected to Congress

and of course

  • being elected president

Lot of people see the successes and overnight winners in the news that make a big splash but fail to see the hard work because it’s not bandied about like the big winners. But here are a list of people that had failures and setbacks before they made it big.

1) Walt Disney – had many failed businesses and was failed initially for not being creative enough and of course later created an iconic theme park and lovable cartoon characters

2) Steve Jobs – fired or ousted from his own company by the board but later brought back to his own company. He had dropped out of college early and was thought to be unwanted by family.

3) Oprah Winfrey – fired for being too emotionally invested in her stories she covered but later became one of the richest women of her time with her own television talk show. There was a time where she was thought unfit for TV, but that turned out not to be the case. She also ran away from an abusive home and a drug situation.

4) Ellen Degeneres – experienced backlash for coming out and her show Ellen was axed. She went back into standup comedy again for a while before starring again in The Ellen Show which was on for only a few episodes. Found work in voice over work for Finding Nemo and later launched The Ellen DeGeneres Show as people began to accept the LGBT community

5) Steven Spielberg was rejected by a university in southern California for cinema and film multiple times due to grades. Although he has made many films that were commercial flops, he of course created ET, Jaws, and many blockbuster hits in film. He didn’t hold any grudge later and later donated money to the school and also got an honorary degree from there.

6) Colonel Sanders of the highly successful KFC didn’t get started in industry until late in his life around age 50 and had been fired from many jobs before finally starting a hugely successful business. His recipe was supposedly rejected at least a thousand times before some place picked it up.

7) J.K. Rowling was a single mom that lived on welfare and poor conditions trying to raise he daughter. She spent seven years to write Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and the book was rejected by twelve major publishing houses after it was completed. She was also told that she should get a job since there was no money to be made in creating children’s story books. When she gave a commencement speech at Harvard she famously said that realizing her greatest fear set her free. And that even after failure she was still alive and able to rebuild and direct all her energy to what really mattered with all her determination.

8) Arianna Huffington – speaking of books, Ms. Huffington had her books rejected by 36 publishers and also got virtually no votes when running for governor but now is a owner of The Huffington Post with 13 books published.

9) Katy Perry – was dropped from two labels and sold only two hundred copies of her first album before the record label went out of business. She went nearly ten years without a hit before she became a household name. She had dropped out of high school to pursue music and also was dropped from another label as well.

10) Robert Kiyosaki – had two companies go bankrupt before starting a hugely successful book series, podcast, and coaching and teaching seminar business.

11) Thomas Edison – was called by his teachers as “to stupid to learn” and was fired from his first two jobs but later went on to invent several devices that changed the world. Worked on making a workable light bulb and went through around 10,000 design iterations before finding something that was satisfactory.

12) Harrison Ford – was told by an executive that he’d never succeed in the movie business. But he is iconic for his Star Wars and Indiana Jones series.

13) Sylvester Stallone – was homeless and broke with utilities shut off. He had to sell his dog according to legend for money and was rejected in casting at least a thousand times. He wrote the script also for Rocky that got a lowball offer and also that he was not to act in it but eventually the movie was made with Stallone in it and it went on to do well in the box office.

14) Lady Gaga – Was signed for a label deal with Island Def Jam records but later dropped after 3 months. It depressed her that she turned to alcohol and drugs for a while until she got a deal with Interscope records but was told she wasn’t pretty enough to play songs at a piano. She took burlesque gigs for a while and finally wrote songs that shot her to fame with her aptly named debut album, The Fame.

15) Jerry Seinfeld – We all know him for his hit TV show but once upon a time he was a stand-up comedian. According to lore his first time on stage he had stage fright and froze and was booed off stage.

16) Robert Downey Jr – was in and out of prison because of his penchant for drugs and alcohol, racing cars, and hit rock bottom for a while and found in an alley. These were partly because of his upbringing as his dad was also a drug user and his parents also had a divorce. Robert Downey Jr dropped out of high school and studied acting. He had many turbulent relationships. Had a divorce, was nearly bankrupt but got a second chance when he was cast as a lead by Mel Gibson later that year met his wife who helped turn his life around and he started drug therapy, yoga, meditation and martial arts. He has been on SNL, was the lead for the movie Chaplin and is known for his Marvel Comics characters.

17) Elvis Presley was told that he couldn’t sing at age 18 and so he took up truck driving until later he was noticed by a professional DJ.

18) Mark Cuban worked many odd jobs going from job to job and also for a very short time as a salesman for a computer distributor and for less than a year. He finally started his own site that was acquired by Yahoo which made him rich.

19) Mary Kay Ash aka Mary Kathlyn Wagner is famous for her direct selling cosmetic products but she started most of her life as a simple housewife and had worked for many years being passed up for promotions and working essentially a dead-end job but started a business plan she intended to start with her husband. Her husband died a month before they were going to embark on this together and she went forth and invested $5000 with help from her oldest son to create company to help men and women succeed.

20) Milton Hershey – was the founder of the company that makes Hershey’s chocolate. He left school after a little over two years to become a painter by taking an apprenticeship but had messed up on of the machines at work by accident and was fired. He started a candy factory that failed and selling candy on the street which was also unsuccessful. He also tried to work for a restaurant chain but wanted to pursue his own thing. He moved back home and developed a method of making chocolate from condensed milk and created a caramel company that he sold successfully for one million dollars and later created a brand new company called Hershey Chocolate Company.

21) Winston Churchill – failed an entrance into the Royal Military college third times. Lost 5 elections and batter depression and speech impediments.

22) Stephen King – Got rejected so many times for his writing that he had a nail peg that he hung rejection letters on a wall which later was replaced by a spike. He couldn’t find teaching work even after getting a teacher’s certificate and so had to support his wife who worked at a local donut shop while he worked in laundry service. Eventually got work as a teacher and came up with a story he thought would be a great story. He submitted it at least 30 times. He threw it away only afterwards only to have it retrieved by his wife who believed in him and told him to finish it and try submitting it again.

23) Jim Carrey – Lived in a vehicle for a part of the time while trying to get a gig. He struggled to maintain jobs and had to drop out of school to help his family at the age of fifteen by getting work as a janitor. He was booed off stage on his comic stand-up gig much like Jerry Seinfeld. He also says that he wrote a check to himself of ten million dollars before he became successful by putting this in his wallet for motivation.

24) The Wright Brothers – had family depression and illnesses and tragedies. Took several years, hard work in a printing and bicycle shop and patent battles to finally develop and get a plane and world recognition for their works.

25) Marilyn Monroe – was told she should become a secretary instead of modeling.

26) Many actors and singers are just human with people like Britney Spears, Demi Lovato and Catherine Zeta Jones having admitted they have bipolar disorder. And they are have undergone treatment to stabilize and they have been able to function. Britney Spears was able to continue to make albums and Demi Lovato has been trying to continue to inspire people. Many other people like Mariah Carey and Catherine Zeta Jones have continued to work and do what they love and surround themselves with positivity. Carey herself was diagnosed with bipolar also.

27) Tim Ferris – had his book turned down at least 25 times before it became a major hit. It was called “The 4 Hour Workweek”.

28) Richard Branson – dropped out of high school at age 16 but almost ran out of money for his Student magazine company so he pivoted to selling records. But then he had problems with labeling and legal issues. He also launched an airline but had had engine damage troubles. Again he had to pivot and find money to get certifications and money from other ventures. He tried to compete also with Coke and Pepsi but didn’t differentiate himself. He also tried to start a car company but was not successful. Due to these failures he made it a tenet, a mantra to have “defined purposes” and differentiation. He also tried breaking into a company venture within the fashion industry but it didn’t work and he brushed it off. And they also tried to get involved in digital downloads but couldn’t compete with Apple.

29) Henry Ford – one of the first maker of cars couldn’t get a mass produced car at first and then couldn’t make the vehicle fit the way he wanted in his mind at first. His company closed because of lack of product and so he tried again. The second time he got the crew together he had to work with someone who knew nothing about engineering and designing and that imploded. So he had to start again but find new funding and still reeling from messing up his good name. In the beginning he had problems and many, many mistakes but they learned from them and implementing them into the system. It took at least another half decade to persevere, overcome setbacks and become the most recognized vehicle company. It took hard work and fine-tuning to finally make a wining product.

30. Tim Allen – was found selling a pound and a half of cocaine in 1978 at an Airport in Michigan to an undercover agent and would have spent a life sentence for drug possession but he only received a 28 month lighter sentence in exchange for information about associates and accomplices. He cleaned up his act and turned to stand-up comedy to make a living and ended up with his own sitcom called Home Improvement and in movies such as Galaxy Quest and Toy Story 2 but also ended up back in the obscure celebrity list had it not been for a Toy Story 3 sequel and the Last Man Standing episode. Like other people on this list it shows a person can clean up and change their life.

31. Angelina Jolie – in the early days of her acting career she was finding her way and had episodes of depression and odd attention drawing episodes with her exes. Drugs were involved and she inflicted a self-destructive path on herself but then she changed her life and took on successful roles, has tried to help others and devote to philanthropy and take care of family.

32. Samuel L. Jackson – he got the way he is now with influences from growing up in an upbringing where drugs and alcohol was the norm. And it would have gotten to him and caused a divorce in his family had he not changed his ways and cleaned up. He got many leading roles such as in Pulp Fiction and eventually made his way into the Marvel Universe of films.

33. Charlize Theron – had to witness violence and abuse between her mom and dad as a child. Tried to move and become a dancer but had bad knees that gave out and ruined any future plans to become a dancer. Became so poor trying to make a living in L.A. But through luck, a bit of fate, good will, good looks and a bit of drama and desperation was found by a talent scout.

34. Danny Trejo – was involved in a life of crime before he turned his life around and redeemed himself through work and dedication to boxing and acting.

35. Drew Barrymore – became addicted at a young age and found herself using harder substances but then after rehab went on to successful films

36. Kelly Osbourne – found herself in a chemical dependence and addiction situation and also much self-loathing but found a renewed career in the entertainment industry after kicking the habit.

37. Naomi Campbell – had substance abuse filled rages and trouble with the law, but turned herself around to become a successful model whose name is recognized everywhere.

There’s a saying that failure will make you better and that anyone who has not failed has not tried anything new. The old adage is that if you don’t succeed to try and try again. Remember that failure is not necessarily permanent or fatal and can often be a great learning experience. Most people are afraid of making the tiniest mistakes but it’s okay to have mistakes and learn from them. That’s how we get better. An internet entrepreneur and businessman, Tai Lopez often asked who you’d want in the trenches with you? Someone who had never really had war experience or someone who was a little raw and battle scarred but had experience. Having a few mistakes and learned from them was infinite times better. Tai Lopez also spent many years in relatively ascetic conditions and a meager living before he found his niche of expertise. Remember that it only takes a little bit of success to overcome all most of the failures.

Do you know anyone who has made mistakes or done something that you would classify as a failure? Remember that no one is perfect. Any one can make mistakes and hit rock bottom, but it’s important to try to learn and get back up and claw your way back up and keep moving forward like Rocky says, because “that’s how winning is done”. If you have anyone you know that has succeeded after many failures, comment below.

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Author: savvywealthmedia

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