These past few weeks, I have been speaking about very basic, rational and tangible subjects like brand planning, innovation and portfolio management. Therefore I’d like to take a step back and look at a more philosophical and emotional approach to marketing this week. After all, we’re all creatives, even if these days we must manage brand data almost as often as we create communications.
Life is a journey made up of highs and lows, wins and losses, and the same applies to business. This week I have been working on a new product idea based upon the most popular blog posts on my website. These are the ones that suggest actions coming from some of the most inspiring marketing quotes I’ve found over the years. In my search for new ones, I was reminded of one of my all-time favourites:
“A man’s life is interesting primarily when he has failed. I well know. For it’s a sign that he tried to surpass himself” Georges Clemenceau, French Statesman
I love this quote for two reasons. Firstly because it reminds us that we all – without exception – fail sometimes. And secondly, that it is these failures that are the signposts of our moving forward. If we never try anything new then we are unlikely to fail.
Why is it then, that at least in Western culture, we are taught to avoid failure and celebrate success? Shouldn’t it, in fact, be the other way around? A similar proverb shows how Eastern culture has, at least in my opinion, a better perception of failure:
“Fall seven times, stand up eight” Japanese proverb
In other words, it is not the failure that matters as much as what we do afterwards. If we learn from it and get back up, then success will follow. In fact, it was the prolific inventor Thomas Alva Edison who it is claimed “failed” thousands of times before he succeeded in inventing such things as the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. As far as he was concerned:
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”
We have all known and will continue to experience failure, but it is what we do after it that differentiates winners from losers, the successful from the less so. However, failure in itself doesn’t mean that you have failed, only that you haven’t as yet found the right way to succeed.
So with a few more inspiring quotes on failure, let’s all think about the future, stand back up and take action; success might just come from our very next idea.
1. “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure” Bill Gates, American Businessman (>>Tweet this<<)
THOUGHT: Do you only celebrate success? If so, your business is giving out the wrong message. In fact we learn much more from our failures than from our successes.
2. “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be” John Wooden, American Coach (>>Tweet this<<)
THOUGHT: Learn from every failure and celebrate those who share theirs with everyone, because it takes courage to do so, but also gives free learning.
3. “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” Benjamin Franklin, American Politician (>>Tweet this<<)
THOUGHT: Lack of success can come from a lack of preparation, as much as from a lack of, or incorrect action. Thinking before acting increases the chance of success.
4. “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently” Henry Ford, American Businessman (>>Tweet this<<)
THOUGHT: Every failure teaches us something new. Use that knowledge to change the future and get closer to success.
5. “The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure” John C. Maxwell, American Clergyman (>>Tweet this<<)
THOUGHT: As already mentioned everyone fails at times, but successful people don’t stop, they just try again, but differently.
6. “Failure doesn’t mean you are a failure it just means you haven’t succeeded yet” Robert H. Schuller, American Clergyman (>>Tweet this<<)
THOUGHT: I love this one, as it gives hope for the future. Never take failure – or success for that matter – personally. We are all just on a road of growing and learning.
7. “Enjoy failure and learn from it. You can never learn from success” Sir James Dyson, British Designer (>>Tweet this<<)
THOUGHT: This quote from James Dyson is particularly poignant. As Edison before him, Dyson made thousands of “tries” before getting his inventions right (5,127 and 14 years of “failures” to get his vacuum cleaner prototype to be precise). Success is never easy and it is never fast – except when viewed from the outside.
8. “Fear of failure must never be a reason not to try something” Frederick W. Smith, American Businessman (>>Tweet this<<)
THOUGHT: We should never fear failure when we can learn from it. Success should be feared, as we might then stop trying and learning.
9. “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall” Nelson M Mandela, South African Statesman (>>Tweet this<<)
THOUGHT: This reflects the Japanese quote mentioned above. Appreciate failure as a chance to prove your strength to stand again.
10. “Failure seldom stops you. What stops you is the fear of failure” Jack Lemmon, American Actor (>>Tweet this<<)
THOUGHT: Never give in to fear. Prepare as best you can and then if you fail, learn from it and move quickly forward.
I hope you enjoyed reading these quotes and the thoughts they prompted in my head. They say that pride comes before a fall; I say success follows failure. I wish you much success in failing fast and often, so you can enjoy more successes!
If you have a favourite quote on failure, please share it below. I’d love to add it to the collection on our website, with attribution to you of course.