F AppleOur CEO, Jeff Stibel, recently shared some of his Greatest Failures of All Time. No, he’s not sharing his personal failures, he’s referring to the stories of successful people who have failed on their path to greatness. It’s a refreshing read, and you might be surprised who is on his list!

While reading this post, I had a chance to think about something he wrote:

“The paradox of success is that if you’re failing in the right way, you’re probably doing exactly what you should be doing to succeed long-term.”

For me, the thought of failure as a variable in our success is crazy, but it makes perfect sense. I could think of countless examples of how my failures helped me in the long run. For example, many of my study and work habits were formed because I learned from what doesn’t work. I learned the best times to avoid traffic on certain freeways by driving on them at the worst times. The examples could go on and on. As a social media intern, I’m always thinking of how I can continue to provide useful and engaging content. When we have a post that doesn’t get a lot of engagement, I think of the many factors I could have changed or improved. How could we have changed phrasing of the post, the length, or even the focus? It’s definitely a game of trial and error, but according to Mr. Stibel, many of our successes are “usually driven by prior failure.” I can look at what we’ve done in the past, analyze what works well and what doesn’t, and continue to move forward.

While I don’t set out for failure, I’m not afraid of it. I use my past failures to make myself better. How can we create new goals if we haven’t experienced and identified the small setbacks that teach us what to improve? How can we learn what not to do, if we haven’t done it yet? Noticing our minor failures gives us the opportunities to reflect on what we can do to improve our efforts in the future. I’m learning more and more that life’s greatest teacher is failure.

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Photo Credit: Naive PhotographyFlickr