Failing Sucks, But It's Good For You

One of the most valuable soft skills a person can grow is perseverance - the act of failing forward. To be clear, failing sucks. It’s not fun. It can be demoralizing and draining, and yet we can find purpose in it. What separates those who simply fail from those who fail forward, is movement. Literally, movement. Those who fail, stop. Those who fail forward, figure out what truth, knowledge, or skill they can squeeze out of the present so that in the future they can do it better and more winningly.

Here for your inspirational appetite are three successful people who learned how to persevere and fail well:

1.  Barbara Corcoran - Currently one of two female Sharks in the Shark Tank, Barbara worked 23 jobs (three of which she was fired from), before landing in real estate in 1973. Over the years, she built a real estate empire that employed over 700 people. In 2001, she sold the Corcoran Group for an estimated $70 million dollars. She frequently speaks about the value of her failures and that she looks for failures in the companies she invests with.

2.  James Dyson - Inventor of the Dyson Cyclonic Bagless Vacuum. Faced with the problem of his vacuum cleaner’s diminishing performance, he realized that if he could find a way to eliminate the bag, he’d have a much better product. It took more than five years, almost all of his savings and 5,126 prototypes to create a vacuum that didn’t lose suction. Unfortunately, he still couldn’t get anyone to manufacture his product, so he created his own manufacturing and research company. Today, his net worth is valued at somewhere around $4.8 billion dollars.

3.  R.H. Macy - Founder of Macy’s department store. Mr. Macy, who lived in Massachusetts, opened four different dry-goods stores, all of which failed. In 1858 he moved his family to New York City and opened a new store on the corner of Sixth Avenue & 14th Street. The location turned out to be an excellent choice. He successfully experimented with offerings that other stores didn’t have, like a Santa Claus, a larger variety of departments and themed window displays. Macy’s eventually became the “largest store on Earth.” Side note: the red star in the Macy’s logo is based on a tattoo Mr. Macy acquired on his hand while working on a whaling ship.

LB Adams is the Founder of Practical Dramatics headquartered in Charleston, SC.  Her company uses theater to help humans grow more profitable conversations with other humans.