Helping Creative People Create

Authority Comes From Failure

by glen

authority failure
Photo by Oncle Tom

It’s really simple: You can’t become an expert until you’ve failed at something.

Yet it’s funny how people with authoritative titles never talk about their mistakes. In fact, it’s a taboo. We want to put our trust in someone who’s more of an “expert” than us. It makes us feel safe and gives us warm fuzzies.

For example, you’d rather not be in the dentist chair and have your dentist proudly telling stories of botched root canals. And nobody wants to believe their doctor ever made a wrong diagnosis.

But they have. Many, many times.

This is where the world gets it wrong. It’s not really “failure” if we view it properly: it’s learning. You don’t know what works until you know what doesn’t work. Failure is all part of the learning process, and anyone who says differently is delusional.

I’d rather a chef tell me how many times he got the recipe wrong before he finally made the perfect pancake.

So don’t worry when you fail. It’s going to happen, and it should happen. Often.

Just don’t make the mistake of using it as an excuse to quit.

Further Reading: Here’s a post from a couple years back that I love and still reference today.

“There Is No Effort Without Error and Shortcoming”

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Leave a Comment

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Oleg Mokhov January 6, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Fail often to succeed faster.

The opposite of success isn't failure. To fail means to find what doesn't work.

We all suck at first. The quicker we find what doesn't work (ie. fail), the faster we'll get to what does (succeed).

No, the opposite of success is giving up.

To failing with purpose,


Glen Stansberry January 6, 2010 at 12:24 pm

To failing with purpose! :)


augapfel January 6, 2010 at 7:55 pm

I think it's safe to say that you should be learning from everything you do. Sure you can learn a lot from your failures, so in that light they aren't complete failures, but you can also learn potentially even more from your successes.


Fenil Desai January 9, 2010 at 12:06 am

Good one..To failing with purpose….:)


Carlos Velez January 16, 2010 at 2:02 pm

So far, while reading this, I've burned 1 out of 3 blueberry pancakes.


Glen Stansberry January 16, 2010 at 3:31 pm

But think how awesome the two other pancakes are! :)


TannaC January 22, 2010 at 1:44 pm

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Thomas Edison


tedbilich February 20, 2010 at 10:44 am

This is a very important principle. Thank you for setting it out so clearly and articulately. – Ted


travesti May 8, 2010 at 1:26 am

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