5 Lessons Of Failure From The World’s Most Successful People

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  • We’ve all heard the famous cliché, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Nowhere is this statement truer than in the business world, where failures can be common, and can totally detract and derail executives from successfully utilizing their ideas, no matter how fantastic they are. When you experience a failure as you try to reach a goal in the business world, remember, that failure doesn’t necessarily mean you need to give up.


    Many highly successful people, including CEOs from some major companies, have experienced failures in the business world, yet learned from their experiences and were able to turn their lessons in failure around so they still achieved success. To help illustrate this point, we’ve created a list of five lessons of failure from the world’s most successful people, so you can see how a failure can be utilized to turn your approach around and create success.


    Lesson #1: Jack Ma and Never Giving Up

    Jack Ma created Alibaba in 1999, a Chinese e-commerce company that has risen to become one of the biggest online companies and online retailing websites found anywhere in the world. Ma worked as CEO until 2013, and now holds the position of executive chairman. After discovering Alibaba, Ma became the wealthiest person in Asia and is now ranked among the wealthiest people in the world. Before he reached his goals, however, Ma struggled to find his way. When taking the college entrance exams in China, he failed the test three times before he finally passed them. Also, once he graduated, he was turned down for every job he applied to. Through all of that, Ma still knew he could never give up. He believed, “giving up was the greatest failure,” as he later stated. By never giving up, Ma was finally able to reach his goals, and achieve success beyond his wildest dreams.

    Lesson #2: Elon Musk and Trying Even when You Think You Might Fail

    Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, has stated publicly that he has a “resume of epic failures.” When he started Tesla, he anticipated that the company would never succeed, but he still wanted to overcome the stereotype that all electric cars were slow and appalling in appearance. Even though Musk thought he would probably fail, he felt the issue was important enough to address, so he started his company, which rose to be an epic success. To Musk, failure happens when a person isn’t innovative enough in their ideas, so if you’re experiencing failure, try to get more creative with your business approach.

    Lesson #3: Jeff Bezos and Using Small Failures

    When the giant e-commerce king Amazon was first founded by Jeff Bezos in 1994, it emerged onto the scene as an online bookstore. Later, it started selling just about everything, and the popularity of the website promoted Bezos into one of the wealthiest people in the world. By reinventing Amazon and keeping it innovative, Bezos was able to turn the company’s sluggish reception as a bookseller into a giant success. Also, he was able to spread the target appeal of Amazon to a larger audience, without putting all of his focus and emphasis on selling one product. Bezos took a small failure and used it to make Amazon a unique website, and a giant success.

    Lesson #4: Mark Zuckerberg and Learning from Your Mistakes

    Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, once publicly stated, “don’t even bother trying to avoid mistakes because you’re going to make a ton of mistakes.” Zuckerberg commented that making mistakes really isn’t a problem to a business entrepreneur as long as the person learns quickly from their mistakes and corrects what needs to be fixed. When he first started Facebook, Zuckerberg’s social media idea lagged behind Myspace in popularity, and he used innovative concepts to make Facebook more appealing to people, and easier-to-use. By being able to revamp his social media platform as he learned from his mistakes, Zuckerberg was able to rise to the level of a major success.

    Lesson #5: Steve Jobs and Using Mistakes to Focus on What You Are Good At

    The late, great Steve Jobs, although he co-founded the company, lost his job at Apple back in 1985 because he couldn’t successfully sell the Lisa Computer. Jobs held other jobs and also founded NeXT, a computer company that Apple later purchased, bringing Jobs back to Apple’s doorstep. Even though Jobs had failed back in 1985 at Apple, he continued to focus on what he was good at: computers and technical innovation. After his return in 1997, Jobs announced a new technology called OpenDoc, which he was initially criticized for introducing. However, OpenDoc became one of the many new concepts Jobs created for Apple that eventually led to his success.

    Originally published on Linkedin Pulse

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  • Fernando Ortiz-Barbachano

    About Fernando Ortiz-Barbachano

    Fernando Ortiz-Barbachano is CEO & President of Barbachano International (BIP) the Human Capital Solutions leader in Mexico, Latin America and the USA offering high-impact executive search, executive coaching and outplacement. Directly and through our partners, we have offices in Mexico, USA, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Uruguay, and Ecuador. Corporate offices are in San Diego, California. barbachano@bipsearch.com. Phone: 619-427-2310.

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