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41 Inspiring Quotes on Failure (and How to Handle It)

On some days things don’t go as planned. You fall. Or fail. Or stumble.

It’s a part of a life well lived but how you look at and handle these dark or negative situations can have a huge impact on your life, success and happiness.

In this week’s article I’d like to share the best advice and thoughts on failure from the past from the people who walked this earth before us (well, quite a few of them are still here and walking among us).

This is 41 of the most motivating, though-provoking and helpful thoughts on failure and how to handle it from the past 2500 years.

  1. “Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.”
    C. S. Lewis
  2. “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”
    – Michael Jordan
  3. “No man ever achieved worth-while success who did not, at one time or other, find himself with at least one foot hanging well over the brink of failure.“
    Napoleon Hill
  4. “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”
    Samuel Beckett
  5. “The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.”
  6. “An inventor fails 999 times, and if he succeeds once, he’s in. He treats his failures simply as practice shots.”
    Charles F. Kettering
  7. “Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.”
  8. “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
    Henry Ford
  9. “When I was young, I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures. So I did ten times more work.”
    – George Bernard Shaw
  10. “A man may fail many times but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.”
    John Burroughs
  11. “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 have failed by default.”
    J.K. Rowling
  12. “To be wrong is nothing unless you continue to remember it.”
  13. “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
    Albert Einstein
  14. “Try a thing you haven’t done three times. Once, to get over the fear of doing it. Twice, to learn how to do it. And a third time to figure out whether you like it or not.”
    Virgil Thomson
  15. “When we give ourselves permission to fail, we, at the same time, give ourselves permission to excel.”
    Eloise Ristad
  16. “Part of being a man is learning to take responsibility for your successes and for your failures. You can’t go blaming others or being jealous. Seeing somebody else’s success as your failure is a cancerous way to live.”
    Kevin Bacon
  17. “A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.”
    Douglas Adams
  18. “Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be.”
    John Wooden
  19. “I’ve come to believe that all my past failure and frustrations were actually laying the foundation for the understandings that have created the new level of living I now enjoy.”
    Anthony Robbins
  20. “Failure after long perseverance is much grander than never to have a striving good enough to be called a failure.”
    George Eliot
  21. “A man may fall many times, but he won’t be a failure until he says that someone pushed him.”
    Elmer G. Letterman
  22. “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent in doing nothing.”
    George Bernard Shaw
  23. “What do you first do when you learn to swim? You make mistakes, do you not? And what happens? You make other mistakes, and when you have made all the mistakes you possibly can without drowning – and some of them many times over – what do you find? That you can swim? Well – life is just the same as learning to swim! Do not be afraid of making mistakes, for there is no other way of learning how to live!”
    Alfred Adler
  24. “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. Kiyosaki
  25. “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
    Michael Jordan
  26. “Failure is nature’s plan to prepare you for great responsibilities.”
    Napoleon Hill
  27. “You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
    Wayne Gretzky
  28. “A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.”
    John C. Maxwell
  29. “There are no failures – just experiences and your reactions to them.”
    Tom Krause
  30. “Success isn’t permanent and failure isn’t fatal.”
    Mike Ditka
  31. “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”
    Winston Churchill
  32. “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of a greater or equal benefit.”
    Napoleon Hill
  33. “The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”
    Mark Zuckerberg
  34. “No human ever became interesting by not failing. The more you fail and recover and improve, the better you are as a person. Ever meet someone who’s always had everything work out for them with zero struggle? They usually have the depth of a puddle. Or they don’t exist.”
    Chris Hardwick
  35. “The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.”
    Elbert Hubbard
  36. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.”
    Mark Twain
  37. “Success builds character, failure reveals it.”
    Dave Checkett
  38. “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”
    Jack Canfield
  39. “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”
    Ken Robinson
  40. “Remember that failure is an event, not a person.”
    Zig Ziglar
  41. “Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.”
    Napoleon Hill

What is your favorite quote on failure? Feel free to share the best one(s) you have found in this article or in your life in the comments section below.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” — A.A. Milne, Winne the Pooh
    Great post! Failure is one of our very best opportunities to learn and reflect. If you aren’t failing some of the time, you likely aren’t taking many risks. Your list is great because it reminds me that extraordinary people use failure as a way to grow. Last year, I attempted my first marathon and failed due to an injury. But, I’ve learned a lot about self-care and listening to my body and I’m trying again this year. It is all about your point of view!

    • Justin

      Albert Einstein’s qoute.it’s real

  • Beckett’s quote is my favourite! ;) #keepgrowing #keepcreating

  • its correct Failure is nature’s plan to prepare you for great responsibilities. if you fail again and again, you have many ways they are not working and move to the right way.

  • mulusew

    realy interesting and helpful. there is failure at z begning of new thing.

  • I am quickly becoming a fan of your blog. You really give some great advice, but this time it is a twist, you let your words be spoken through these motivating, thought-provoking and helpful thoughts on failure and how to handle it, all by different people throughout the years.

    This is a very creative way to talk about it, just by posting other people’s quotes on the subject. I thank you for your post and your creativity. Creativity is what I love sharing with my readers on my blog Creative Signals.

  • Great blog. I read the first time and i have to say. It is really good. And the best thing is that we can get inspired by the famous and great personalities. Great blog really. I wish you all the luck buddy.

  • Rick

    I love the way you take the time to curate great quotes, Henrik. Awesome job as always!

  • Great blog. Just came across it a couple of minutes ago and i loved this article. The way you carefully picked out some of the wisest men of our time to inspire the world.
    Kudos. I also seek to inspire the world into action. There’s a lot of potential out there. I hate to see it go to waste.