Success and Failure

Is it better to succeed at failing or to fail at succeeding? Or is there any difference at all? To me, saying that I succeeded at failing to publish this blog on time sounds so much better than saying that I failed to succeed with meeting my self-imposed deadline to this debatable diatribe. Possibly because the former statement feels somewhat more empowering- like I at least had some choice in the matter. I am not really sure why I was musing on this or what inspired me to write on this topic, but I did have some fun collecting the quotes and interviewing friends and family to get their insight as to how they would describe these abstract concepts. All over the map. Let's begin with the formal dictionary definition or each, and go on from there.

suc·cess [suhk-ses] noun
1.the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors; the accomplishment of one's goals.

2.the attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like.

3.a performance or achievement that is marked by success, as by the attainment of honors: The play was an instant success.

4.a person or thing that has had success, as measured by attainment of goals, wealth, etc.: She was a great success on the talk show.

5.Obsolete , outcome.

So, asking around, here are a few of the responses I was given. I won't give any hints as to the identities of the contributors :-)

Success is when you are able to conquer something that you initially thought you hadn't a shot in Hell of achieving. Perseverence.

Success is achieving the goals that you set forth.

Success is giving birth.

Success is having lived your life in such a way that you have few regrets on your deathbed.

Success is the accomplishment of a personal goal- whatever it may be.

Success is relative to context and circumstances. Simply put- it is achieved when you are better off than those around you.

Success is when what you say, what you do, how it is perceived, and the end result are in harmony and the desired outcome is attained.

Success would be achieving a goal, whether completely or just a piece of it.

Here are a few examples:

Saying thank you and meaning it.

Telling loved ones you love them before it's too late.

Cooking a delicious meal.

Walking your dog 7 days a week.

Writing letters to those who appreciate them.

Creating a beautiful piece of art.

Knowing how to please others.

Listening with full attention and an open mind.

Being humble.

Planting a bountiful garden.

Helping an ill or injured person to recover.

Arguing your point in such a way so that others agree with you.

Being generous.

Marrying the love of your life.

Making a basket.

Winning the prize.

Getting promoted at work.

Building a campfire.

Driving a fancy car.

Having high social status among those you respect.



Doing your best to look your best.

Winning against all odds.

How would you define success if nobody could see you? Would your definition be the same? Is it about attaining comfort? Respect? Status or fame? Wealth? Being desirable? Popular? Beautiful? Educated? Loved? Having stuff? Time? Enlightenment? Or a combination of these attributes? And is there an ultimate standard from which to judge our success- or is it relative?

fail·ure [feyl-yer] noun act or instance of failing or proving unsuccessful; lack of success: His effort ended in failure. The campaign was a failure.

2.nonperformance of something due, required, or expected: a failure to do what one has promised; a failure to appear.

3.a subnormal quantity or quality; an insufficiency: the failure of crops.

4.deterioration or decay, especially of vigor, strength, etc.: The failure of her health made retirement necessary.

5.a condition of being bankrupt by reason of insolvency.

Here are the descriptions given ( most of them were nearly the same ):

Failure is giving up.

Failure is not achieving your goal in its entirety.

Failure is being misunderstood.

Failure is when your best is not good enough.

Failure is when you can't grasp the concept.

Failure is when you can't teach the concept.

Here are a few simple examples:

Over or under-cooking the meat.



Offending people.

Missing the target.

Spilling the milk.

Giving our incorrect information.

Being petty.

Correcting people when it isn't necessary.

Getting fired.

Being negligent.

Being untrustworthy.

Losing the tournament.

Being inconsiderate.

Being over critical.

Being rude.

Being arrogant.

Being cruel.

Crashing the car.

Wetting the bed.

Gluttony with food or drink.

Developing a destructive dependency.




Mismanaging your money.

Making a false accusation.

Neglecting your pet.

Neglecting your loved ones.

Neglecting your yard and house.

Losing motivation.

Being inappropriate.

It interests me to consider success and failure. Is there a universal absolute for which to compare? Is it cultural? Does it depend upon gender? Expectation? Perhaps we can decide that we are successful or a failure, and it is as simple as that. I think the key is that we decide it- and not those around us. We can be a successful indigent or a failed billionaire- depending on what is being considered, who is considering it and why.

Happy Healthy Thanksgiving!


Grandma's Green Bean Casserole

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 cup sour cream
3 (14.5 ounce) cans French style green
beans, drained
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup crumbled buttery round crackers
1 tablespoon butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth, and cook for one minute. Stir in the salt, sugar, onion, and sour cream. Add green beans, and stir to coat.
3. Transfer the mixture to a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish. Spread shredded cheese over the top. In a small bowl, toss together cracker crumbs and remaining butter, and sprinkle over the cheese.
4. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the top is golden and cheese is bubbly.

More Quotes:

I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.

-Thomas A. Edison


There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.

-Paulo Coelho


Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.

-Lance Armstrong


To err is human, to forgive, divine.

-Alexander Pope


My fault, my failure, is not in the passions I have, but in my lack of control of them.

-Jack Kerouac


Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.

-F. Scott Fitzgerald


I'd rather be partly great than entirely useless.

-Neal Shusterman


If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.

-Henry David Thoreau


My past is everything I failed to be.

-Fernando Pessoa


Science, my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth.

-Jules Verne


If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original.

-Ken Robinson


Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

-Samuel Beckett


The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.

-Henry Ford


I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.

-Amelia Earhart


Success, after all, loves a witness, but failure can't exist without one.

-Junot Diaz


The end of a relationship is not always a failure. Sometimes all the love in the world is not enough to save something. In these cases, it is not a matter of fault from either person. Some things cannot be, it's as simple as that.

-Ashly Lorenzana


Negative results are just what I want. They’re just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best until I find the ones that don’t.

-Thomas Edison


A bad day for your ego is a great day for your soul.

-Jillian Michaels


Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.

-C.S. Lewis


I am not concerned that you have fallen -- I am concerned that you arise.

-Abraham Lincoln


I would sooner fail than not be among the greatest.

-John Keats


If you don’t try at anything, you can’t fail… it takes back bone to lead the life you want.

-Richard Yates


But instead of spending our lives running towards our dreams, we are often running away from a fear of failure or a fear of criticism.

-Eric Wright


The person who failed often knows how to avoid future failures. The person who knows only success can be more oblivious to all the pitfalls.

-Randy Pausch


Nostalgia is a necessary thing, I believe, and a way for all of us to find peace in that which we have accomplished, or even failed to accomplish. At the same time, if nostalgia precipitates actions to return to that fabled, rosy-painted time, particularly in one who believes his life to be a failure, then it is an empty thing, doomed to produce nothing but frustration and an even greater sense of failure

-R.A. Salvatore


So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. 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.

-J.K. Rowling


I never fail. It's just that the people around me succeed more than I.

-Carroll Bryant


All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong, and repairs the evil. The only crime is pride.



Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.

-Robert T. Kiyoski


Next Post date: December 2, 2013

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November 4, 2013


Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

-Winston Churchill


If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.



Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.

-Albert Einstein


-Dr. Seuss


Success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get.

-W.P. Kinsella


Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.

-Truman Capote


If A is a success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut.

-Albert Einstein


The worst part of success is trying to find someone who is happy for you.

-Bette Midler


Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.

-Winston Churchill


I'm a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn't have the heart to let him down.

-Abraham Lincoln


Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it.

-Salvador Dali


Don't spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.

-Coco Chanel


Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.



Anyone whose goal is 'something higher' must expect someday to suffer vertigo. What is vertigo? Fear of falling? No, Vertigo is something other than fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves.

-Milan Kundera


All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure.

-Mark Twain


The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.

-Walt Disney


A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.

-Bob Dylan


It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.

-Theodore Roosevelt


Success is most often achieved by those who don't know that failure is inevitable.

-Coco Chanel


It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.

-Leonardo da Vinci


Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it.

-Winston Churchill


A thinker sees his own actions as experiments and questions--as attempts to find out something. Success and failure are for him answers above all.

-Friedrich Nietzsche


Eighty percent of success is showing up.

-Woody Allen


If you try and lose then it isn't your fault. But if you don't try and we lose, then it's all your fault.

-Orson Scott Card


I've had great success being a total idiot.

-Jerry Lewis


It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.

-Herman Melville


n order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.

-Bill Cosby


Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

-Dalai Lama XIV


Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter.

-Francis Chan


Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.

-George Bernard Shaw


The good news is that the moment you decide that what you know is more important than what you have been taught to believe, you will have shifted gears in your quest for abundance. Success comes from within, not from without.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson


If at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.

-Steven Wright


Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.

-Napoleon Hill


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