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quotations about failure

Most important thing in life ... is learning how to fall.

JEANNETTE WALLS, Half Broke Horses

Failure after long perseverance is much grander than never to have a striving good enough to be called a failure.

GEORGE ELIOT, Middlemarch

About the only problem with success is that it does not teach you how to deal with failure.


It is a tragic hour, that hour when we are finally driven to reckon with ourselves, when every avenue of mental distraction has been cut off and our own life and all its ineffaceable failures closes about us like the walls of that old torture chamber of the Inquisition.

WILLA CATHER, "The Burglar's Christmas," Home Monthly, Dec. 1896

What people call success is only preparation for the next failure.


Hast thou fallen? Do not groan and lament: rather be thankful for the opportunity given thee to rise once more.

IVAN PANIN, Thoughts

Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.


If something doesn't go your way, it's probably because you didn't work that hard at it.

CHRIS SIMMS, Lakeland Ledger, Nov. 24, 2005

Failure means that you would not, or could not, pay for success. Success is a matter of sale. It can (most often) be bought by a large outlay--of hard forethought--of pains--of steadiness--of the golden wisdom coined from experience. But the figure is too high for most of us. We are too poor, or too slothful, to bring the price.

CHARLES BUXTON, Notes of Thought

Through failure, we learn a lesson in humility which is probably needed, painful though it is.

BILL WILSON, As Bill Sees It

Failure is regarded in Hollywood as practically a contagious disease; people will literally cross the road to avoid someone who is tainted with it.

BARRY NORMAN, The Film Greats

Ninety-nine percent of failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.

GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER, as quoted in Roy B. Zuck's The Speaker's Quote Book

One of the most important tasks of a manager is to eliminate his people’s excuses for failure.

ROBERT TOWNSEND, Further Up the Organization

Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it's not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure along the way. The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won't. it's whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.

BARACK OBAMA, speech, Jul. 12, 2006

A common tendency is to set an almost unreachable standard for success while simultaneously creating a standard for failure that is easy to meet. As a result, you may routinely feel a lot less successful than is necessary.

TOMMY NEWBERRY, Success Is Not an Accident

My parents always allowed me to fail when I was growing up, and I think that gave me a lot of strength going forward in my life. I lost high-school and junior-high elections when I ran for class president. I learned early in life to get up and dust yourself off and keep going.

ANDREA WONG, Newsweek, Oct. 15, 2007

A minute's success pays the failure of years.

ROBERT BROWNING, prologue, Apollo and the Fates

There is no sorrow I have thought more about than that--to love what is great, and try to reach it, and yet to fail.

GEORGE ELIOT, Middlemarch

Better to fail in the pursuit of the noble, than to succeed in the search for the mean.

IVAN PANIN, Thoughts

Neither failure nor success has the power to change your inner state of Being.

ECKHART TOLLE, The Power of Now

You can't let your failures define you -- you have to let your failures teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently the next time.

BARACK OBAMA, National Address to America's Schoolchildren, Sep. 8, 2009

I have a congenital aversion to failure.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, letter to George E. Pickett, Feb. 22, 1841

The common idea that success spoils people by making them vain, egotistic, and self-complacent is erroneous; on the contrary, it makes them, for the most part, humble, tolerant, and kind. Failure makes people cruel and bitter.


We sink to rise.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON, Letters and Social Aims

All great success is preceded by failure.

BRIAN TRACY, The 100 Absolutely Unbreakable Laws of Business Success

The only failure a man ought to fear is failure in cleaving to the purpose he sees to be best.


If a man has directed his course to great ends there is compensation even in ruin.

ARTHUR LYNCH, Moods of Life

No matter whether failure came
A thousand different times,
For one brief moment of success,
Life rang its golden chimes.


In times of success remember many have succeeded even better than thou: in times of failure, remember many have failed even worse than thou.

IVAN PANIN, Thoughts

I've formulated a theory: You have to continuously fail. You fail at something, then you get over it, then you fail some more. And after you fail, there's always something new there. And that something new can be really interesting.

WILLIAM SHATNER, Esquire Magazine, May 2012

Success is somebody else's failure.

URSULA K. LE GUIN, Dancing at the Edge of the World

There is a chill air surrounding those who are down in the world, and people are glad to get away from them, as from a cold room.

GEORGE ELIOT, The Mill on the Floss

Take the happiest man, the one most envied by the world, and in nine cases out of ten his inmost consciousness is one of failure. Either his ideals in the line of his achievements are pitched far higher than the achievements themselves, or else he has secret ideals of which the world knows nothing, and in regard to which he inwardly knows himself to be found wanting.

WILLIAM JAMES, Lectures VI and VII, "The Sick Soul," The Varieties of Religious Experience

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.

HENRY FORD, My Life and Work

Time and again we fail ... and each time we fail, we rise up again and continue, determined this time to fail better.


Don't fear failure -- Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.

BRUCE LEE, Striking Thoughts: Bruce Lee's Wisdom for Daily Living

Browse Failure Quotes II

Read Henry F. Kletzing's essay: The Bright Side of Failure


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