Succeeding to Fail

US News & World Report just crowned Princeton University as the top university in the United States. They are wrong. Dead wrong.  Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Madonna, Oprah, Michael Jordan, Steven Spielberg, Colonel Sanders, and many of the world’s most successful people will all say that there is one school out there that outranks them all. It’s called The School of Hard Knocks. Failure is the ultimate way to learn, and as an added plus, it usually costs far less than Princeton.

“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

-Michael Jordan

There are few successful people that will say that failure hasn’t been a part of their lives. In fact, most successful individuals will say that failure has actually been an integral part to their success. Here are some of the most famous failures;



No one wanted to hire Walt Disney as an artist. In fact, he couldn’t get hired elsewhere either. So, his brother got him a temporary job. Walt’s first animation studio went bankrupt. He went on to co-found The Walt Disney Company, which had over $40 billion in 2012 revenue.

Steven Spielberg was rejected both times he applied to attend film school at University of Southern California (USC). That didn’t stop him. Spielberg has grossed $8.5 billion from films he directed.

Oh, and after Spielberg became famous, USC awarded him an honorary degree, and Spielberg later became a trustee of the university.

After only seven and a half months, Oprah Winfrey was fired from her job co-anchoring the 6pm news at Baltimore’s WJZ. Something about not being the right fit.Oprah became a media billionaire, hosted the highest ranked TV show of it’s kind in history, and is an incredible philanthropist – getting involved in other people’s stories to help them.

It took 5 years and 5,126 failed prototypes for James Dyson to develop the world’s first bagless vacuum cleaner. 10 years later Dyson setup his own manufacturing facility, because other manufacturers wouldn’t produce his vacuum. Now he has the best selling vacuum in the world. According to The Sunday Times, in 2013 his net worth was 3 Billion Pounds.

Milton Hershey’s chocolate business was his third. The first two went bankrupt. His perseverance led to enormous wealth and philanthropy. Hershey established the Milton Hershey School for at-risk children, and a foundation to provide opportunities to residents of Hershey, PA.

Speaking at Harvard’s graduation, J.K. Rowling spoke about failures:

“You might never fail on the scale I did,” Rowling told the new graduates. “But it is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.”

When Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book, she was divorced, bankrupt and on welfare. After a dozen publishers rejected her manuscript one finally agreed to publish it. But the publisher told Rowling that she needed to get a job because there’s no money in children’s books.She’s now a billionaire.

Colonel Harland Sanders was a 6th grade dropout. When he was 65, a new interstate highway diverted traffic away from his restaurant leaving Sanders with only his secret fried chicken recipe and a Social Security check. So he began selling his recipe and franchise idea. According to the sources close to Sanders, he was rejected over 1,000 times. Then he found a partner with whom he built the KFC franchise powerhouse (over 15,000 restaurants).



Life is a process of learning and evolving. Failure is by far and away the biggest opportunity one has for lessons to be learned at the deepest level. Failure is actually the root of what some might call “wisdom”. It is important to take these failures as something from which one can learn and grow, but it’s imperative that the individual doesn’t let their lowest points define him or her.

Hitting rock bottom may not be a bad thing. It is from rock bottom that one can stand up and begin to rebuild on this new foundation of wisdom. From failure you can build strength, courage, perseverance, and character, so why fear it?



Most of the worst things in this world spring from fear; bigotry, hate, racism, anger, war, deceit, etc. Fear has no place in the rational mind. It has no place in business. It has no place. Fear is the only thing that keeps most people from actually achieving their dreams. And the craziest part is that fear is a self-caused infliction.

People who fear failure are the ones that watch the world and their dreams go by. Failure is simply not something to be feared. One should look at the consequences of failure and prepare for them, but never allow it to be an impediment in any way. Failure is a good thing, almost a success in itself. Many people look back on their failures with tremendous pride.


They fell down and they are proud of it. Why?




MP Consulting Group knows what it takes to rebuild after a business or nonprofit hiccup. Please contact us today to find out exactly how our expertise in finance, corporate restructuring, grant writing, and risk management can help you or your organization out of whatever rut, valley, or gorge you may be stuck in.