Learning From Failure

Failure is inevitable.

In life, you will fail.

There will come a time when you attempt to do something, be it big or small, and you will not succeed on your first, second, or thousandth try. At some point, you will have to decide that enough is enough, and it’s just not going to happen.

You didn't give up. You failed.

Now what?


Photo via  Flickr

Photo via Flickr

When I was 17, I took my driver’s license road test. At the time, I had received praise from my parents, family members, friends, and my driving instructor on how great a driver I was. There was no doubt in my, or anyone else’s for that matter, mind that I would pass with flying colors.

My dad drove me to the testing site where I sat (mostly) confidently that in just a few minutes, I would be a licensed driver.

During the drive, I thought things went well, except for a small hiccup at a confusing intersection, but nothing to worry about.

“You did not pass the driving test.”

Those were the words the examiner stated as he printed out a small receipt that stated, “Failure to yield to traffic.”

When I got back to the car, my dad stood there beaming and asked how it went.

“I didn’t pass,” I mumbled while looking down at the ground. It took him a second to process, but we proceeded to get back in the car and drive home. On the way, I asked him to tell my mom, as I didn’t have the heart to disappoint her.

“I don’t think he’s ever failed at anything,” my dad said to her over the phone. All I could do was stare out the window wondering how I’d tell everyone that I still didn’t have my license. While I was sure I had failed at something before…it didn’t happen often, and I wasn’t sure how to deal with it.


We could go through life avoiding failure, but we should also recognize that a life without failure is a life without trying new things. There’s no way to avoid failure.

That’s worth repeating. There’s no way to avoid failure.

It is literally impossible to find a high-profile person who has not failed at a business deal, invention, exhibition, company, role, or something else they were passionate about.

Although the aim is always to succeed, it's important to accept that failure is going to happen and learn from it when it does. Otherwise, we keep ourselves from finding that boundary, that limit that needs to be bent or broken through.

When we fail at something, the most important step is to understand why. What did we do wrong? Did we prepare enough and for the right things? Was there anything we could have done better, or were we a victim of circumstances?

There are a number of honest questions we need to ask ourselves to learn from that failure, and the more we understand it, the better we can avoid that particular failure in the future.

Failing is not a problem, but failing to learn from your failure is, and avoiding your passions because of your fear of failure is the path to mediocrity.


After what seemed like an eternity, but was actually the required 30 days, I retook my driving exam. I had spent the time in between practicing on every road I could, especially those that I was unfamiliar with. I was not making the same mistakes I did the first time.

I remember proudly driving home that day. I had passed and learned a lesson that at the time seemed miniscule, but has stuck with me since: failure is only as permanent as we let it be.

- Ryan