reading series 5.4



“Stories of failure” was a project I began through this reading series which, in spirit, is something of a cross between Russell Banks’ “Success Stories” and Samuel Beckett’s conceptual line, “fail better.” My idea for this series was to share some personal stories and anecdotes from some of the more challenging times in my life. I suppose it is an odd project because most people, myself included, like to focus on the positive. However, I do feel that the challenging times in our lives define us as much, if not more, than the positive times. These times teach us how to rise from the fall, how to find light in the darkness, how to learn new ways of being, how to persevere, and how to find reserves of strength within ourselves, enabling us to begin again, anew.

I wanted to write a little about this before I started up the series again because the last time I embarked on this project, I had received a couple of letters from friends asking if I was okay. They were worried about me because I guess stories about failure tend to be on the sad, depressing, and/or negative side. For the most part, I have tried to temper this with what I learned, how I grew from the experience, or how these experiences have informed my writing, but sometimes the experience stands as is, without a contextual explanation. Nevertheless, I feel that in our failures – what hasn’t worked out, what brought us to our knees, what left us in spiritual darkness, what we have had to overcome – we find, in reality, the truest measure of our success.


Quotes about Failure:


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

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

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

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

“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

“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

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

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

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy

“When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important.” – Ellen DeGeneres

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” – Paulo Coelho

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” – C.S. Lewis

“We are all failures – at least, the best of us are.” – J.M. Barrie

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett

“We climb to heaven most often on the ruins of our cherished plans, finding our failures were successes.” – Amos Bronson Alcott

“Supposing you have tried and failed again and again. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call “failure” is not the falling down, but the staying down.”  – Mary Pickford

“There are defeats more triumphant than victories.” – Michel de Montaigne

“Our business in life is not to succeed, but to continue to fail in good spirits.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

“Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.” – John Dewey

“The line between failure and success is so fine that we scarcely know when we pass it – so fine that we often are on the line and do not know it.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Many people dream of success. To me, success can only be achieved through repeated failure and introspection.” – Soichiro Honda

“An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” – Isaac Newton

“It is only through failure and through experiment that we learn and grow.” – Isaac Stern

“Failure is not the enemy, but a life-changing experience. It is a human experience, and it prepares the way for us to grow and transform our lives.” – Sobonfu Somé




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