Success and Failure: What’s the Difference?


What’s the difference between success and failure?

Lots of people may think there’s a world of difference between the two. But the reality is that they’re much closer than you think.

That’s because in order to succeed big, you need to risk failing big. And often, you need to fail over and over again if you want to get the success you really deserve.

Just think about some of the world’s most successful people.

success and failure

J.K. Rowling, one of the world’s most successful writers and creator of the Harry Potter series, considered suicide in her early 20’s.

Walt Disney, one of the world’s most creative and unique talents, saw his first big project – Laugh-O-Gram Studio – go bankrupt in 1923, long before he launched his media & entertainment empire.

Elvis Presley, the “King of Rock and Roll”, was told by Jim Denny, manager of the Grand Old Oprey, after one potentially career-changing gig “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.”

So what does this tell us about success and failure? A few things.

5 Things to Learn From Success and Failure

1. It’s not whether you fall down, it’s whether you get back up

Elvis, Walt Disney, J.K. Rowling and countless other successful people have failed over and over again. What’s the difference with them, and people who fail once and give up? To name a few – fame, fortune, and living a life true to their passion.

Related: The Power of Positive Thinking

2. Failure is just life’s way of giving you feedback

I once heard someone say that failure is just a form of feedback, nothing more, nothing less. Those words rocked my world. I realized when I heard them that if you can treat life as a big experiment with the goal to learn as much as possible as fast as you can, so you can get to your success-formula faster, you’ll be better off than you would have been had you taken the “safe” road.

Related: 10 Winning Beliefs That Can Change Your Life

3. It’s always darkest just before dawn

If you’ve been knocked down in life before, then you know that man’s biggest successes come not from avoiding catastrophe, but instead by facing obstacles head-on, falling down every now and again, getting back up and dusting himself off to continue the fight.

Hey, if there weren’t any challenges on the road to success, it would be easy, and everybody would get what they want. What fun would that be?

Related: Set Your Goals – The First Step to Success

4. Learn from your mistakes

I’ll use the word “mistakes” lightly here. After all, if you learn something from a mistake, then that’s not really a mistake, instead it’s valuable feedback. The important thing to do is to take that feedback as a learning opportunity so you can move yourself closer to success every day.

5. Continued effort pays off

You remember the story about the tortoise and the hare, right? Some people called the tortoise stubborn, slow, and even boring. But guess what? With each slippery, slow, methodical step he took, he got closer to his goal. Meanwhile the rabbit was taking a nap…losing the proverbial fight to the persistent tortoise.

Related: How to Overcome Limiting Beliefs

So what does all of this mean?

As you work toward achieving any of your goals – whether it’s to get healthier and lose some unwanted fat, or start a new business, or become a better parent – know that failure is inevitable. As a matter of fact, it’s desired. You should relish it. Because in those moments of failure, you’ll have the choice to either continue on your current path, give up, or change course and plow ahead.

And that decision – time and time again – is what builds character. It’s what separate the weak from the strong. And it’s what can get you everything you want in life.

The difference between success and failure isn’t that big…it really starts with a simple decision, after your next mis-step. The question is, what will your decision be?


dan's headshotDan Cassidy is CEO & Founder of, an online magazine helping people become healthier, happier and more successful each day.

Featured image by Lorenz PhotoClimber

Originally posted 12/13 and updated 11/14.

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  1. I absolutely agree with this article. However, my problem is that I can’t get motivated. I wake up every morning determined to do what needs to be done but I wind up in the same old groove; checking and replying to e mail, looking at the news; anything but get on with what I’m supposed top be doing. Appreciate any ideas from anyone.

    • Hey Patricia!
      I know it’s a while since you wrote this comment, but I thought I’d give you an answer nonetheless.
      I’ve always had the same problem with having zero motivation. I figured that I’m the most productive when I’m the most busy, so I make sure I don’t really have a lot of time to do the things I want to do. Pressure is the thing that works for me.
      But an idea more specific for you, would be to start out with a rule saying that you won’t use your computer for at least one hour after you get up, or after you come from work or whenever you have this problem with procrastinating. This worked for me. I aspire to be a writer, so even though one usually writes on the computer, I use this one or two hours to write down my ideas and thoughts with pen and paper instead, to give an example.
      Other than that, taking small steps at a time to get started. I start my “productive” day by doing my dishes and roughly cleaning the surfaces of my room so that I feel like I got started.
      Anyways, try it out! 🙂

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