Why failure is the stepping stone to success


Kevin Mangelschots


Most people view failure as something they can’t possibly live down and as something so negative that they should avoid it at all costs.

Yet, failure is the stepping stone to success since it motivates us to learn new things, allows us to figure out what doesn’t work, and because it teaches us to evolve to deal with these difficulties.

Here’s why:

  1. Motivates us to learn

    Our brain is wired to prevent painful experiences rather than chasing positive events. However, it should be noted that we’re also likely to search out situations that make us feel good.

    Since failure typically makes us feel awkward and anxious, it promotes learning to keep us from having to experience these same sensations again. So in a way, failure teaches success.

  2. By figuring out what doesn’t work

    “It doesn't work!!!” Written in black letters on a notepad with a pen.

    While failure isn’t exactly fun, it does allow us to get closer to eventual attainment for the simple fact that it’ll teach us what doesn’t work.

    If we’re smart, and take it a step further, then we can not just figure out what doesn’t function as intended, but also why that doesn’t work. And consequently, what we have to change so that we do succeed in the future.

  3. Develops essential skills such as discipline, perseverance, and working hard

    Some knowledge can’t be gained through books and has to be acquired through practical experience.

    How can you gain abilities such as discipline and perseverance if you’ve never had any misfortunes, errors, or failures along the way? We can know how to get those skills on paper, but that doesn’t mean that we can actually develop and apply them effectively without actively improving them first.

  4. It’s a natural part of life

    Failure is a natural part of life that we have to go through at some point if we want to learn from our imperfections to do better later on.

    Yet, for some reason, we want to do things perfectly from the very beginning while being afraid of what happens if we don’t.

    We’re concerned about things such as being ridiculed, bullied, and punished, and that our self-esteem gets destroyed in the process. Yet, it’s the sign of a mature and confident mind if we can tolerate the chance for failure, and can move past this anxiety by knowing that it sets us up for success down the road.

  5. It takes pressure to build a diamond

    Image of a diamond with the quote, “pressure makes diamonds” written in yellow letters over the diamond.

    It takes pressure to build a diamond. Rarely do we become successful when things are too easy since there are simply too few chances to learn novel substances. Not to mention that there’s less reason to acquire new abilities as well when everything is already going smoothly.

    But when times are tough, and we’re put into challenging predicaments is when we get ample opportunity to develop as human beings. We don’t solely get a generous amount of chances, but it’s even mandatory that we evolve if we wish to survive and thrive in the time to come.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What does “failure is the stepping stone to success” mean?

Failure is the stepping stone to success means that we have to flop before we can thrive in life.
That means that failing is required before we can even think about flourishing eventually.
That’s because it forces us to learn novel abilities and strengthen our preexisting skills as a stepping stone toward success. Without failure and mistakes, it’s unlikely that we would bother improving to the point of becoming prospering.

Failure is the stepping stone to success examples

Image of stepping stones lying in the water.

Example 1

Let’s use Fiona as our first example.

Fiona starts her own clothing store business, only for it to flop completely, and even go bankrupt eventually. While the loss of her shop weighs heavily on her conscience, she refuses to give up and decides to learn from her failure and the mistakes she made along the way.

Eventually, she started another clothing store with her added experience and knowledge and grew it into a thriving enterprise.

She effectively used her first failure as a learning experience to evolve and adapt to what her audience wanted.

Example 2

Another instance would be Bart who cold approaches an attractive woman at the bar to ask her out on a date. The woman in question is not interested and says no. To make matters worse, she decides to laugh at Bart for even contemplating for a second that she would go out with him.

It hurts Bart to his core that there are people out there willing to go out of their way to hurt those around them. Nevertheless, he refuses to give up and uniformly dismisses all women as being the same way.

So he musters up the courage to cold approach another woman at the bar. Contrary to his previous experience, this lady is reciprocal, and they’re now a happy, loving couple thinking about marriage and children.

Who said failure is the stepping stone to success?

A person holding a question mark in front of their face.
John Di Lemme famously said the quote, “Failure is the stepping stone to success.”

He’s a writer, business coach, and a successful podcaster.


Failure is the stepping stone to success because we rarely deliver the goods from the very first time, and because it stimulates us to learn new things, and to sharpen our skills.

Instead of viewing failure as something negative that we can’t possibly endure, try considering it as the perfect opportunity to acquire new knowledge and experience that allows for achievement in the time that’s yet to come.

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