Lynn and Doug Nodland

Doug and Lynn Nodland

Have you ever failed at something and then eventually succeeded? What was that journey like for you?

Whether the situation involved something at work or at home, failing probably didn’t feel so good. No one likes to fail, but we’ve all felt it! It really hurts and navigating the journey to success can be difficult.

You might find it surprising that many very successful people actually feel that it is what they learned through failures that contributed to their ultimate success.

One of the people who became wildly successful, after failing, was Walt Disney. He was once fired from a newspaper and told it was because he “lacked creativity”! Then he formed an animation company called Laugh-O-Gram films but it failed. He didn’t give up. Instead, he went to Hollywood, where finally, some of his films gained popularity and he skyrocketed to success.

Maybe there is something you want to do and you have encountered some failure. Just as Walt Disney learned from his failures, we want to share some things we’ve learned over the years that can help you to see how failing can actually lead to success. The writer James Joyce said, “Mistakes are the portals of discovery.”

The first thing that has to happen to embrace failure is to realize that each failure is an opportunity. Successful people see mistakes as opportunities to learn and change direction as needed.

When Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb, was asked how he could keep going after failing 10,000 times, he said, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Notice how he reframed failure to actually see his attempts as progress toward his goal.

We also see attempts as success because you never lose — you always win by learning something, so you can do it better next time.

Failure encourages you to innovate or change course. It will help you to try different methods. Henry Ford said, “Failure is the only opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.” If you aren’t afraid to fail, you will take more risks and this increases the likelihood that you will succeed in finding the right way to your goal.

Failure can help you to relate to others and others to relate to you. Why this happens is because everyone has failed at something, so people generally can understand and appreciate what you are going through. This also makes them more willing to want to help you and in that way, you know that you are not alone.

Richard Branson said, “Face failure head on, don’t be afraid of it, and people will support and welcome you even more.”

We all like to know our strengths but when failure reveals weaknesses, it can be very helpful. Knowing your weaknesses can help you avoid tasks you don’t do well by deciding to do them differently in a way that plays to your strengths.

You can also delegate tasks to someone else who is more suited to doing them. For instance, for us, we are not very “techie.” We don’t know the intricacies of setting up and maintaining websites. It is much better for us to delegate those duties, rather than inefficiently spend our time trying to figure it all out — and still get it wrong. So knowing your weaknesses can also save you time and frustration.

Finally, failing can help you be kinder to yourself if you treat the failure as a step toward reaching the goal. Also, you may become less of a perfectionist. Your self-confidence can increase when you see yourself as a capable, intelligent person who is just learning on the way to success. Albert Einstein said, “Failure is success in progress.”

What about you? What are some areas where you feel you have failed but you want to try again?

Here are some suggestions: The most important thing about trying to succeed at something is to have the right mindset. When you have failed, it’s easy to give up, but if you persevere, you will learn what to do and you can be successful.

Zig Ziglar said. “Always remember that failure is an event and not a person.” Have the courage to risk failure again so you open up the opportunity to reach your goals.

We would enjoy hearing stories of your journey and how you navigated through failure to reach success.

Chanhassen residents, Doug and Lynn Nodland are success coaches and owners of The Balance Center. Doug and Lynn can be contacted at More information and videos at

Community Editor

Mark Olson, the Chaska and Chanhassen community editor who has worked in Carver County for 20 years, makes any excuse to write about local history. In his spare time, Mark enjoys perusing old books, watching blockbusters and taking Midwest road trips.


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