Why Failure Helps Your Career

When you listen to celebrities being interviewed about their success, they often end up talking about their failures. They reflect on how many times they were rejected and how, if you want to achieve your goals in life, falling flat on your face is a prerequisite.

Fear of failure is so common because it puts a magnifying glass up to our insecurities. Failing makes us feel uncomfortable, like we have nothing worthwhile to offer. So, it becomes easier to avoid trying anything new because then we don’t have to broadcast our shortcomings and confirm our hidden self-doubt.

Though career failure is extremely vulnerable, it is also extremely important. A new study suggests that early career failure is a high predictor of future success, proving that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.

It’s how you learn

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

When we were young, we were blank slates who had to learn to walk, speak, read, write etc. And more often than not, we failed at doing it. There’s no way, as children, we could be expected to perfect something out of the gate. Humans, whether fun or full sized, all learn the same. We need time, trial and error to get an idea going to full speed and even more time, trial and error to go into action. Be patient and compassionate to your learning process.

It encourages new ideas

“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” – Ken Robinson

Here’s a simple concept: If you don’t change anything, nothing will change. Doing things, the same way they’ve always been done has hard limits. It doesn’t allow space for invention, creativity or growth. When you give yourself permission to fail, you give yourself the flexibility to expand beyond the glass ceiling of your career or the way your company operates.

It makes you humble

“It’s failure that gives you the proper perspective on success.” – Ellen DeGeneres

Only when you’ve experienced the hardship or embarrassment of a failure can you really appreciate the sweetness of success. Earning your achievements will feel much better in the long run than if they were handed to you. If you worked hard, you will more likely tend to your earnings and have immense gratitude. At the end of the road, not only will you have the success itself, but you will have all of the lessons you gathered along the way.

It gives you clear direction

“Try a thing you haven’t done three times. Once, to get over the fear of doing it. Twice, to learn how to do it. And a third time to figure out whether you like it or not.” – Virgil Thomson

Without having tried many things, you will never know what works for you or what you actually like. One of the best ways to find out what you like is to actually find out the things you don’t like. When you try something, it’s going to go one of two directions, “this works” or “this doesn’t work”. Both are informative in finding out which direction to go.

So, go on and start failing! It’s the only way forward.

“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” – Suzy Kassem

This article was written by Kris Leigh Townsend.

Kris Leigh Townsend is a writer based in Los Angeles.


  1. Dear Committee.
    Thank you very much for the Article
    Every Failure is a Step to Success.
    I found the Article very interesting.
    Kindest Regards Kenneth Clarke.

  2. Kris, I am 64 Ys old and recently was fired from a career I had poured my time and money into. I was devastated. Wife encouraged me but I was defeated. Applied and got new incredible job I couldn’t have ever imagined Getting. I still can’t believe it. Thanks for sharing your article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *