The Power of Failure

27 Ways to Turn Life's Setbacks into Success

The Power of Failure

The fear of failure is enough to stop many people in their tracks and lead them to give up without even trying. But best selling author Charles Manz shows that failure is an essential component of personal and professional success. Using real-life examples and stories, Manz shows that:

  • Challenges are disguised opportunities
  • Competition spurs positive change
  • Setbacks catalyze creative coping skills, and
  • Collaboration with failure can be an ongoing part of being successful

The Power of Failure offers both inspiration and advice on how failure can provide us with the foundation for long-term success. This book is loaded with inspiring real-life examples and stories, and filled with practical strategies that you can put to use immediately to fulfill your dreams.

The fear of failure is enough to stop many people in their tracks and lead them to give up without even trying. But best selling author Charles Manz shows that failure is an essential component of personal and professional success. Using real-life examples and stories, Manz shows that:

  • Challenges are disguised opportunities
  • Competition spurs positive change
  • Setbacks catalyze creative coping skills, and
  • Collaboration with failure can be an ongoing part of being successful

The Power of Failure offers both inspiration and advice on how failure can provide us with the foundation for long-term success. This book is loaded with inspiring real-life examples and stories, and filled with practical strategies that you can put to use immediately to fulfill your dreams.

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Overview

The fear of failure is enough to stop many people in their tracks and lead them to give up without even trying. But best selling author Charles Manz shows that failure is an essential component of personal and professional success. Using real-life examples and stories, Manz shows that:

  • Challenges are disguised opportunities
  • Competition spurs positive change
  • Setbacks catalyze creative coping skills, and
  • Collaboration with failure can be an ongoing part of being successful

The Power of Failure offers both inspiration and advice on how failure can provide us with the foundation for long-term success. This book is loaded with inspiring real-life examples and stories, and filled with practical strategies that you can put to use immediately to fulfill your dreams.

The fear of failure is enough to stop many people in their tracks and lead them to give up without even trying. But best selling author Charles Manz shows that failure is an essential component of personal and professional success. Using real-life examples and stories, Manz shows that:

  • Challenges are disguised opportunities
  • Competition spurs positive change
  • Setbacks catalyze creative coping skills, and
  • Collaboration with failure can be an ongoing part of being successful

The Power of Failure offers both inspiration and advice on how failure can provide us with the foundation for long-term success. This book is loaded with inspiring real-life examples and stories, and filled with practical strategies that you can put to use immediately to fulfill your dreams.

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Meet the Author


Visit Author Page - Charles Manz

Charles Manz, Ph.D., is the Charles and Janet Nirenberg Professor of Business Leadership in the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts. Manz has served as a consultant for 3M, Ford, Motorola, Xerox, the Mayo Clinic, Procter & Gamble, General Motors, American Express, and many other organizations. He is the author of several books, including the bestselling The New SuperLeadership and Leadership Wisdom of Jesus.

To learn more about Charles and his work, visit him on the web.

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Introduction: Succeeding with the Power of Failure


Part 1: Redefining Failure and Success

Part 2: Winning Through Losing

Part 3: Coping with Failure

Part 4: Collaborating with Failure


Getting Started: The Power of Failure Motto


Notes

Index

About the Author

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¯»¿ The Power of Failure

1

Introduction

Succeeding with the Power of Failure

Only he who does nothing makes no mistakes.

—French Proverb1

Would you like to be successful throughout the remainder of your life? Would you like to enjoy meaningful success where you learn, grow, and contribute in significant ways; where your life is full, counts for something, and makes a difference? If your answer is “yes,” then you must fail. There is no exception to this rule. Significant success requires failure, but failure must be regarded in a whole new light. That is what this book is about—how to use the Power of Failure to Succeed.

Failure is one of the most dreaded words in the English language. The very idea of failing is enough to stop most people in their tracks. It can cause the majority to simply pack up, turn around, and retreat without even trying.

2

Success, on the other hand, is nearly a magical idea for most people. The possibility of succeeding or becoming a “success” is an almost mythical pursuit. People love to be labeled a success and will often sacrifice greatly to achieve this end.

Although most people hate to be labeled a failure and love to be labeled a success, it is only through seeming failure that most of life’s greatest successes are achieved. Usually, “failure” or “success” is almost entirely in the eye of the beholder.

As an example, who can forget the classic children’s story The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen? One of the birds in a community of ducks is singled out for constant ridicule because he is so different from the rest. He is treated as an utter failure and comes to view himself as exactly that. Consequently, he loses his sense of hope, falls into despair, and runs away from his troubles.

Eventually the Ugly Duckling learns that his difference is not the curse that he thought it was. In fact, when he finally sees his own reflection in a pond and discovers that he is a magnificent swan, his apparent failure in life is completely transformed.

This story may reflect an essential truth about what we call “failure.” It is very often a misperception about the difference between what exists and goes unnoticed (such as growth and learning when we fall short of reaching a goal) and what is realized later (longer term success).

3

Of course, sometimes failure is tied to a lack of competence to perform in the face of a specific challenge, but seeming failures can be a powerful way to learn and ironically provide the means for life’s greatest breakthroughs and successes. Eventually we can learn to accept that what most people call failures are usually only temporary setbacks in relation to some arbitrary standard and are an essential part of life. They are usually just challenges in progress. This important lesson can help us understand that the only real failures occur when we back away from worthwhile challenges without even trying or when we refuse to learn from our setbacks.

Changing our perspective is often the key to finding success in seeming failure. Optimistic thinking has sometimes gotten a bad rap as being unrealistic, but research has found that we can indeed live happier, healthier, and more successful lives if we can learn to discover the opportunities in problems. These problems then become merely challenging opportunities that we can turn to our advantage. They provide opportunities for personal growth and can stimulate our creativity for finding better ways to live.

In the end, the Ugly Duckling makes this kind of discovery and is magnificently transformed. Then he is able to take flight as the beautiful swan that he is and soar high above the ducks that had treated him with such disdain. We too can more fully live as the magnificent beings that we are if we can come to see that:

  • Challenges are disguised opportunities
  • Differences are a gift
  • Mistakes are learning opportunities
  • When we try our best and are willing to learn, we always succeed, even if we don’t achieve the results we hoped for.

4

This book is designed to provide simple yet profound ways to turn seeming failures into successes. It contains practical prescriptions for successfully meeting some of life’s most common setbacks. The lessons of this book are organized into four parts. They include redefining success and failure, winning through losing, coping with failure, and collaborating with failure. It will become obvious that these four parts, while distinct, are also highly related and that the lessons contained in each significantly overlap. Nevertheless, it is useful to consider the various prescriptions that this book has to offer across these four key areas for turning failure into success.

It is also helpful to think of the various specific lessons of this book in relation to a larger whole— more general guidelines for failing successfully. Most of the book’s prescriptions relate to some primary themes, which are summarized in the following list. We can think of these themes as a new view or vision of how we can transform failure so that it contributes positively to more successful living.

5

A New View of Failure: Some Primary Themes

  1. Redefine Failure. Failure is a natural part of life that can impact us positively or negatively depending on how we define it.
  2. Redefine Success. The more important measure of success is based on our own deeper knowing of what’s right for us rather than approval or disapproval from others.
  3. Learn from Failure. Failure presents an opportunity for continued learning and growth while success can lead to complacency and stagnation.
  4. View Failures as Stepping-Stones to Success. Success and failure are not incompatible—most failures are simply challenges in progress that can provide a foundation for success.
  5. Find the Opportunities of Failure. Setbacks or short-term failures can contribute to future success if we focus on the opportunities they contain rather than the obstacles.
  6. Use Negative Feedback to Your Advantage. Current negative feedback can provide positive information for improvement or may even suggest that you are onto something new and different—a sign of a pending breakthrough success.
  7. Look Beyond Yourself. As you learn to focus outward, on helping others succeed rather than yourself, you become less vulnerable to what otherwise might appear to be personal failures.
  8. Persist. Keep on trying and trying. Sustained Effort + the Lessons of Failures is a powerful formula for success.

6

One other point should be made at the outset. This book is not advocating failure as end in itself. Rather, failure is a means, an essential ingredient, to successful living. The value of failure is in the learning and growth that it provides. Without learning and growth, failure can be a destructive force in our lives. In that sense this book is really about effective success, not success that leads to an inflated self-image and complacency, but rather success as a way of living that benefits from all life has to offer. And that includes successful learning in the face of setbacks and what some mislabel as failure.

The lessons of this book can help us find the opportunities that are just waiting to be discovered in the challenges and “failures” we face every day. They offer prescriptions for a more productive, prosperous, and peaceful life. This book is about failure, but failure seen in a whole new light. It is about how we can harness the Power of Failure to help us succeed.

To help get this process started, old and new definitions of failure and success follow. I hope that by the end of this book the new definitions of success and failure will become a natural part of your perspective of life.

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"The Power of Failure insightfully captures very practical and powerful strategies for turning failure into success. I prescribe it for your health and life success."

-Tedd Mitchel, M.D., Health Columnist for USA Today Weekend Magazine and Medical Director of the Cooper Wellness Program

"This book can help anyone realize that their full potential as a winner is determined by their ability to remain loyal to their vision in the face of significant setbacks."

-Emmet (Tom) Thompson, II, President, AFC Management, INC. and National Certification Director ACMA

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