Success vs Failure

By June 3, 2014 April 18th, 2020 Articles
nlp blog

Success and failure; they can be very challenging to define, can’t they? This is because everyone has their own definition of what success and what failure is, which is, usually defined by their childhood experiences. What are your definitions?  I’d like to hear your comments, seriously!

Webster’s dictionary, my go to source for definitions, says Success is;

  • the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame.
  • someone or something that is successful : a person or thing that succeeds.
  • the correct or desired result of an attempt.

Personally I like the latter. The correct desired RESULT!  Isn’t that what success AND failure truly are; just a result? Isn’t what we perceive as reality just a perception anyway? You’ve heard that saying, “someone else’s garbage is someone else’s treasure.”  Well couldn’t the same be true about success and failure? One person’s success may not be enough and considered a failure to another. And one person’s failure might be another one’s success. Interesting yes?

Success seems to be so much easier to define, I believe because we have such an exhilarating emotion attached to it. It simply feels GOOD to succeed or win. There seems to be such an incredible stigma around success especially here in the United States. Winning, succeeding, obtaining the brass ring at all costs, we are obsessed with succeeding.

Failure on the other hand has such a sad, gloomy even a dirty feeling to it. I think because as we are growing up, at least here in the United States, there is such a negative emotion attached to failure.  At a very young age we hear sayings like;

“There is no failing.”

“There are no points for second best.”

“Don’t settle for second best.”

“No one remembers the silver medalist.”

“Failure is not an option.”

“Second place is just the first place loser.”

“There is no such thing as second place. Either you’re first or you’re nothing.” 

And when you get down to the specifics of winning and losing, success or failure, it can come down to one-one hundredth of a second for first place, a nose in horse racing, a width of a finger nail in the high jump, or one less pit stop in Nascar. It’s really incredible how much truly separates the winners and the losers in society. And while I don’t believe in luck, I do believe in fate, being in the right place at the right time can make all the difference in the world when it comes to succeeding. Awareness!

Though without failure HOW would you know WHAT to do the next time you attempt the same outcome? You couldn’t! Because our behavior is regulated by our unconscious mind, which 98% of our daily thoughts are repeated daily, you most likely would choose the same approach again, that is what you know. It is what is most comfortable to you. It is how our brain operates. It will usually take the path with the least resistance.

Think of our behavior in regards to relationships. Why do we choose the same type of person? Why do we continue down the same path with the same personalities?  Because it’s what we are most comfortable with, even though we know consciously what we desire in another person. Though until we experience ENOUGH pain to move us away from what we do, how will you know what TO DO until you know what NOT TO DO?

Why do we accept failure, I believe is “We do more to avoid pain than gain pleasure.” Success just feels good. Winning feels good. Achieving something you set your mind to, just feels good. You can’t deny that.

No one really wants to admit to our own failures, but we’re all too eager to roar about our successes. And as I’ve said “You cannot find success, without losing to failure.” And there is NO-ONE that is a better example than this then our 16th President Abraham Lincoln. His story is by far the greatest example of determination in American history. If you want to learn about somebody who looked at success as “just a result,” (as I will say over and over again) this was the man!  One of my favorite quotes from him is: “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”

This seems to be a behavior which is so consistent when we GIVE UP or GIVE IN to failure. So many individuals DECIDE this is their fate, their path, their FAULT! And nothing could be further from the truth. It’s a matter of acceptance. Are you willing to accept the outcome you’ve produced?

Abraham Lincoln was born into poverty in Hodgenville, Kentucky, Feb 12th 1809. Lincoln faced defeat throughout his entire life. He lost eight elections, twice failed in business and suffered a nervous breakdown. He could have quit many times – but he didn’t and because he knew failure was just a result, he became one of the greatest presidents in the history of our great country.

Here is a snapshot of Lincoln’s road to the White House:

  • 1816: His family was forced out of their home. He had to work to support them.
  • 1818: His mother died.
  • 1831: Failed in business.
  • 1832: Ran for state legislature – lost.
  • 1832: Also lost his job – wanted to go to law school but couldn’t get in.
  • 1833: Borrowed money from a friend to begin a business and by the end of the year he was bankrupt. He spent 17 years paying off this debt.
  • 1834: Ran for state legislature again – won.
  • 1835: Was engaged to be married, sweetheart died and his heart was broken.
  • 1836: Had a total nervous breakdown and was in bed for six months.
  • 1838: Sought to become speaker of the state legislature – defeated.
  • 1840: Sought to become elector – defeated.
  • 1843: Ran for Congress – lost.
  • 1846: Ran for Congress again, this time won, went to Wash D.C. and did a good job.
  • 1848: Ran for re-election to Congress – lost.
  • 1849 Sought the job of land officer in his home state – rejected.
  • 1854: Ran for Senate of the United States – lost.
  • 1856: Sought the VP nomination for his party and got less than 100 votes.
  • 1858: Ran for U.S. Senate again – lost again.
  • 1860: Elected president of the United States.

So the next time you FAIL at something you set your mind upon, take a moment, breathe, look at it from another perspective, look at it as just another RESULT, yes?

How would you like to re-program your subconscious mind to produce massive results? Click Here!
Or please contact me personally about a free coaching session – Contact Me Here!

John James Santangelo PhD

Author John James Santangelo PhD

John James Santangelo PhD - nationally acclaimed speaker, author, seminar leader, and business results coach, has been a guiding force in empowering individuals, businesses, and corporations to excel at peak performance. John is a foremost authority in success principles and expert in the field of communication; an NLP trainer and clinical hypnotherapist. He has worked with companies such as The Learning Annex, Los Angeles Sheriffs Dept., Mary Kay Inc, Multiple-Sclerosis Society, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Well-Point, Xerox, RE/MAX Realtors, the Teamsters Union, and the US Army counter-intelligence team. Whether you’re looking to fulfill short/long term goals, increase your sales performance, or hire John for your next event, John will help you achieve that success! Visit or call (818) 879-2000

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