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When something doesn’t go your way, what’s the first thought that pops into your head? Do you chastise yourself? Or do you reassure yourself that you are growing stronger and wiser with each challenge you face?

“. . . we must realize that everything which happens is due to some wisdom and that nothing happens without a reason.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 46.


In reality, it’s not the successes that make you a stronger, more successful person; it’s the failures.

This may sound odd, but each failure you have is actually a success. Why, you ask? Because it gives you the opportunity to improve, learn, and try again. Let’s take a look at a couple of the world’s greatest failures that lead to the some of the most ubiquitous inventions of our time.

  • Did you know that 3M’s greatest failure was inventing glue that won’t stick? That glue became the basis for the sticky backing on the “Post-It Note.”
  • Thomas Edison’s invention of the carbon microphone was a failure which contributed significantly to the commercial success of the telephone and remains in use today.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that each failure you encounter will land you with an immediate success. But it’s always a stepping-stone along the way.

“The more often the captain of a ship is in the tempest and difficult sailing the greater his knowledge be­comes. Therefore I am happy that you have had great tribulations and difficulties… Strange it is that I love you and still I am happy that you have sorrows.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, Vol. XIV, No. 2, p. 41.

You Can Only Appreciate Success After You’ve Failed

Thomas Edison had an incredibly positive attitude about failure. When he was questioned as to why so many of his experiments were failures, he responded by saying that he never had a failure in any of his experiments, rather, each experiment helped him discover another way that something would not work. In reality, sometimes the only way to know whether you’ve succeeded is to fail.

Learning How to Deal With Disappointment

Dealing with the disappointment of failure can be tough for adults as well as for children. But everyone experiences failure at some point in their lives and teaching our children how to deal with the disappointment is a critical life lesson.

Can you imagine a young adult, either a teen or college student, dealing with their first failures in the workplace? A tantrum at any age is not appealing, never mind from an adult who should know better.

Consider the very wise words of Winston Churchill who said, “Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” What did he mean exactly? Well here are three reasons why failing is a good thing:

1. Inspiration – Before you laugh, think about your childhood when you didn’t get something right the first time. What did you do? Tried again and again! Each time the thought in your head was, “I am going to get it right this time!” What better motivation do you need?

2. Humility – No one is perfect, sometimes we need to be reminded of that very fact! Can you imagine a world where no one ever failed and we all walked around thinking we were God’s gift to the world?
3. Learning – Success makes you feel good, but failing teaches you a lesson. Think back to the first time you swung a bat, learned to walk, or tried to eat with a fork. Did you do it right the first time? Of course not. Did you figure out with each failure what you were doing wrong? Well if you can swing a bat today, walk and eat with a fork then I guess you did!

Thus you might look upon your own difficulties in the path of service. They are the means of your spirit growing and developing. You will suddenly find that you have conquered many of the prob­lems which upset you, and then you will
wonder why they should have troubled you at all.
Shoghi Effendi, Living the Life, pp. 35-36.

Failure brings positive change and success to those who are resilient. How has failure led to success in your life? Post your comments here.