Success From Failure

People are rarely successful the first time they try something. In fact, Thomas Edison once quipped, “I’ve had a lot of success with failure.” 

And you’ve probably heard the tried-and-true cliché—If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. 

Here are five attitude-adjusting thoughts and one key question about failure and success from John Maxwell: 

  1. Failure is an attitude, not just an outcome.
  2. Success comes by going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.
  3. Failure isn’t failure unless you learn nothing from it.
  4. Failure is an opportunity to begin again, but more intelligently.
  5. Failure never leaves us the same: I’m either leaving the failure and giving excuses, or I’m learning from the failure and I’m growing. 

John then asks: “The key question on your bad day is: Are you going to give up or get up?” 

What are you going to do with failure?

If you want to read more, check out John Maxwell’s book Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn, or some other Maxwell quotes here.

15 More Quotes From “Success 101”

Susscess 101One of the things I enjoy about John Maxwell’s books is the number of other resources he employs to make his point: motivational sources, historical sources, quotes, stories, personal examples, and more. Here are some of the quotes Dr. Maxwell shared in his Success 101 book.

“Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life. Everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus everyone’s task is as unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.” —Viktor Frankl

“There is no man living who isn’t capable of doing more than he thinks he can do.” —Henry Ford

“A blind man’s world is bounded by the limits of his touch; an ignorant man’s world by the limits of his knowledge; a great man’s world by the limits of his vision.” —E. Paul Hovey

“Failure is really a matter of conceit. People don’t work hard because, in their conceit, they imagine they’ll succeed without ever making an effort. Most people believe that they’ll wake up someday and find themselves rich. Actually, they’ve got it half right, because eventually they do wake up.” —Thomas Edison

“Sir, I salute you not only as a great leader of men, but as an indomitable Christian gentleman who wouldn’t give up.” —General Charles Cornwallis, when he surrendered to George Washington

“I start where the last man left off.” —Thomas Edison

“Success is a little like wrestling a gorilla. You don’t quit when you’re tired—you quit when the gorilla is tired.” —Robert Strauss

“Every successful person finds that great success lies just beyond the point when they’re convinced their idea is not going to work.” —Napoleon Hill

“The greatest mistake one can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.” —Elbert Hubbard

“He who makes no mistakes, makes no progress.” —Theodore Roosevelt

“Nobody whoever gave their best ever regretted it.” —George Halas

“If you do what you can, with what you have, where you are, then God won’t leave you where you are, and He will increase what you have.” —Bill Purvis

“Each time you decide to grow again, you realize you are starting at the bottom of another ladder.” —Ken Rosenthals

“Start doing what is necessary; then do what is possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” —Francis of Assisi

“The only conquests which are permanent and leave no regrets are our conquests over ourselves.” —Napoleon Bonaparte

I also shared some quotes from John Maxwell himself in Success 101. You can read those by clicking here.

Read The Red Letters

Read the red lettersLet’s see if you can guess what famous person said the following (the answers are below … but no cheating!):

  1. “The phonograph is of no commercial value.”
  2. “I think there is a world market for about five computers.”
  3. “I tell you Wellington is a bad general, the English are bad soldiers; we will settle the matter by lunch time.”
  4. “There will never be a bigger plane built.”
  5. “The world potential market for copying machines is 5000 at most.”

People get it wrong lots of times. Even really smart, successful people. King Solomon, who was called the wisest of all, wrote a book called Ecclesiastes in which he shared some bad advice he tried to follow. In the closing verses he gave this warning, “My son, be warned. Of making many books there is no end so do not believe everything you read, and much study is the weariness of the flesh” (Ecclesiastes 12:12).

In the Hebrew world there were three departments of knowledge:

  • Law―words from God to man
  • Prophesy―judgment from God on how man is doing in observing God’s law
  • Wisdom―man’s attempt to live out God’s law based on observation, experience, and reflection (for a great example of all three departments at work, see Luke 10:25-37)

What we need is someone who (1) knows God’s way, (2) lives God’s way, and (3) can teach us how to live out God’s way for ourselves. Someone who is perfect, flawless in every phase. We need the One Who said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35). That One is Jesus.

Can I make a suggestion that will bring you amazing results? Spend some time reading the red letters. That is, go to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and focus on the words of Jesus (which many Bible translations print in a red font). There I am certain you will discover the greatest words ever spoken!

If you can, please join me over the next few Sundays as we will be attempting to discover the greatest words ever spoken on a variety of subjects. Folks have turned in the questions that they would like answered, and we are going to look to the red letters to see what Jesus has to say.

Answers to the quiz:

  1. Thomas Edison, remarking on his own invention 
  2. Thomas Watson, Sr., chairman of IBM
  3. Napoleon Bonaparte, at a breakfast with his generals preceding the Battle of Waterloo
  4. A Boeing engineer, after the first flight of the 247, a twin engine plane that held ten people 
  5. IBM board of directors, to the eventual founders of Xerox
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