5 Lessons That Professor Failure Taught Me About Success


January 30, 2011   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Failure has become a faithful friend throughout the years. Early on in my life I thought failure was my mortal enemy. But life’s experience has taught me that Professor Failure is on the academic staff of my personal University Of Success that I attend.

He is a vital necessity for my training, in order to become someone who will reach his full potential, and even go beyond what he personally thought possible. And why is that? Because I have learned to ask a simple question of my professor after every failure, ‘What is the most important lesson that I can learn from this mistake?’

Those lessons then become the building blocks for the success I have experienced to date, and the success that will accompany me for the rest of my days.

So please allow me to share with you just 5 lessons that Professor Failure has taught me about success.

  1. The Importance Of Obsession
    If you ever want to make your mark on this world, you are going to have to break free of mediocrity and be obsessed.

If I was to ask you as to what is your magnificent obsession, how would you answer?

It must resemble a burning desire, a fiery ambition, something that keeps you up at night and wakes you early in the morning. It’s the thing that if you don’t do it, while you’re alive on planet earth, it just won’t get done. It’s your unique mission and contribution. It’s your executive orders issued to you by the General of the Universe to complete.

Wishy-washy, directionless human beings have filled our graveyards for centuries. But may I challenge you to step out from amongst that company and be the extraordinary human being that you were created to be, and make your mark.

Let the personal graffiti of your life be plastered on every door post, declaring, ‘I am, I was, I conquered.’

Others may call you weird, strange, out of the extraordinary, single-minded, and one-eyed. But it is the obsessed of this world who have brought us the motor car, flight, freedom, the Internet, Facebook, and so much more. They have changed our world. So be obsessed and be a world changer.

  • The Need For Persistence
    I recall the time when I’d written my first book and was about to self publish it. My first book sale yielded me more than $100,000. At the time I was filling shelves at our local super market. Even before I knew that I had made that sale I continued to work late nights and early mornings with a joy in my step. 

I made it a point to be the best shelf filler in that organization.

Why was I so happy?

Because I knew, because I knew (yes I’ve doubled those words for emphasis) that I was born to succeed. Sure, failure had knocked me down on a number of occasions throughout my life, but I was destined to succeed because I understood the power of persistence. And that persistence paid off. And what joy success was when I handed in my resignation and invited some of my shelf-filler buddies to my first book launch.

  • The Necessity Of The Dream
    Without a dream and without a vision you are nothing but a lifeless void. 

Dreams are not just for the confines of your sleeping hours. Dreams should be the invaders of your waking moments. Upon these dreams, for a better future, are based our hopes, and at the same time they’re the fuel that will drive your productivity and the profitability in everything you do.

My dream is the guiding compass that has carried me through packing shelves, cleaning houses and factories, mowing lawns, publishing books, being CEO of my own web design company, business coaching, professional speaking and now being the owner of multiple businesses.

I have never been overly concerned as to what I did, but rather how I did it. Happiness has accompanied me as much while cleaning toilets as it has conducting board meetings.


Because of the dreams planted firmly in my heart and mind.

  • The Vitality Of A Plan
    Without an architecturally designed plan a builder cannot build a structurally sound house. So too for life. You must take out some time to construct a plan for your life. For as someone once wrote, ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.’ 

There are many words that I could write about planning, goal setting, and life goals, mission statements and more. But let me simply share 6 points in brief that Napoleon Hill – the author of Think and Grow Rich – wrote way back in 1937.

  1. Fix in your mind the exact amount of money you desire. Be definite as to the amount.
  2. Determine exactly what you intend to give in return for the money you desire.
  3. Establish a definite date when you intend to possess the money you desire.
  4. Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire, and begin at once, whether you are ready or not, to put this plan into action.
  5. Write out a clear, concise statement of the amount of money you intend to acquire, name the time limit for its acquisition, state what you intend to give in return for the money and describe clearly the plan through which you intend to accumulate it.
  6. Read your written statement aloud twice daily, once just before retiring at night and once arising in the morning. As you read – see and feel and believe yourself already in possession of the money. 
  • The Power Of Faith
    Any great man or woman, who has ever lived, has had to pass through the refining fire of failure in order to rise as the Phoenix – to become those whom we call successful.Faith sees things as they are not. So it is during the periods where things seem impossible and insurmountable that faith is provided the perfect platform for development.As I cleaned dirty factory floors and toilets I dreamed that I would one day reach a global audience with the creative gifts that lay dormant within my being. I wanted to live a life of influence. I wanted to help those who may currently be in the depths of despair, depression and debt – and yet through my words lift them up so that they too can be instructed by Professor Failure and rise and obtain ‘High Distinctions’ in the University of Success. 

So that is my call to you today. Do not allow failure to destroy you. Use failure rather to build you, to transform your character, crystallize your dream, and transfix your determination to succeed through the power of persistence and the fortitude of faith. This is your greatest hour. Grasp it with both hands and be the butterfly – and fly, fly, fly.

Are there any other lessons that Professor Failure has taught you, and could help others to graduate from the University of Success?

Motivational Memo:
A High Distinction obtained in the University of Success is yours if you allow the seed of failure to do its work within you.

Written on 1/30/2011 by Peter G. James Sinclair . Peter is in the ‘heart to heart’ resuscitation business and inspires, motivates and equips others to be all that they’ve been created to become. Receive your free inhalation of ‘motivational’ life by subscribing to his Motivational Memo Blog today! Photo Credit: Paul Keller

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