How the Failures of Others Can Help You to Succeed in Business

You may have come across the term ‘the paradox of failure’. It’s the idea that failure can actually produce success – but how does that actually work, in real terms? In this article, we’ll explore how failure can occasionally be a great thing for you to succeed in business.

Feelings of Failure

All of us have experienced failure at some point in our lives. These failures go by a variety of names: ‘errors’, ‘mistakes’ or ‘mishaps,’ to name just a few. Failure can take many forms, but generally speaking, it produces the same emotional response. When we fail, it doesn’t feel good. We may seek to avoid taking the same action – in order not to experience those feelings again.

Looking at Things in a Different Way

When you’ve experienced failure, it’s tempting to say to yourself “I’m never going to do that again, no matter what!” It’s the safer option, with minimal risk involved, so it’s hardly surprising it’s an appealing choice.

However, sometimes it pays to view failure in a different light. Rather than swearing never to try again, thinking about how you can do things another way. How can you tweak your approach in order to get what you want? In short, how can you learn from your failure, and go on to achieve bigger, better things?

Accepting Failure as a Part to Succeed in business

The following is a story that illustrates the point.

A younger man asked a successful older businessman “How did you get so successful?” The older man simply replied, “Good judgment.” “Well,” persisted the young man, “how do you get that?”

The elder man replied with one word. “Experience.”

“Okay,” said the young man, “so how can you get that?”

The elder man answered: “Poor judgment.”

The story summarises the potential of failure – that is, the opportunity to learn from it.

How to Get Good Business Experience

If we understand that good judgment comes from experience, how do we go about getting that experience in the first place? From my experience, there are two ways to achieve this. You can either learn from doing it yourself (your own personal failures), or learn from others (the failures of other people).

Guess which way is much easier and a lot less painful?

When faced with a business decision, you can either make the judgment call and move forward yourself, learning along the way; or you can learn from the decisions of others. Ask yourself what other businesses have done in similar circumstances – how did it work out for them? If they failed, what lessons can be learned from this? If you’re not sure, get a Business Mentor who is more experienced than yourself and learn from that person.  There’s so much useful knowledge to be gleaned from the mistakes of others – all it takes is a little bit of research to discover more.


“In business, decisions require resources to implement. Decisions made with poor judgment cost even more. ” Raymond Huan



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