Have you ever made serious mistakes in your life or business that cost you dearly? Have those mistakes ever left you feeling defeated and discouraged? Learning from failure is crucial to long-term success. Consider the following insurance claim filed by an injured bricklayer.

“Dear Sir,

I am writing in response to your request for additional information. In block number three of the accident reporting form, I put “poor planning” as the cause of my accident. You said in your letter that I should explain more fully, and I trust that the following details will be sufficient.

I am a bricklayer by trade. On the day of the accident, I was working alone on the roof of a six-story building. When I completed my work, I discovered that I had about 500 pounds of brick left over. Rather than carry the bricks down by hand, I decided to lower them down in a barrel by using a pulley, which, fortunately, was attached to the side of the building at the sixth floor. Securing the rope at ground level, I went up the roof, swung the barrel out and loaded the bricks into it. Then I went back to the ground and untied the rope, holding it tightly to insure a slow descent of the 500 pounds of brick.

You will note in block number eleven of the accident reporting form that I weigh 175 pounds. Due to my surprise at being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Needless to say, I proceeded upward at a rather rapid rate up the side of the building. In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming down. This explains the fractured skull and broken collarbone.

Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulley. Fortunately, by this time I regained my presence of mind and was able to hold tightly to the rope in spite of my pain.

At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of bricks hit the ground and the bottom fell out of the barrel. Without the weight of the bricks, the barrel now weighed approximately 50 pounds. I refer you again to my weight of 175 pounds in block number eleven. As you might imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the building.

In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming up. This accounts for the two fractured ankles and the lacerations on my legs and lower body. The encounter with the barrel slowed me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell onto the piles of brick, and fortunately, only three vertebrae were cracked.

I am sorry to report, however, that as I lay there on the pile of bricks, in pain, unable to stand, and watching the barrel six stories above me, I again lost the presence of mind AND I LET GO OF THE ROPE!”

Learning from Failure.

The only true failure is the failure to learn from your mistakes. Like the bricklayer in our story, many people keep making mistakes over and over again because they fail to learn from their errors and adapt accordingly. This holds them back from reaching their full potential.

Successful people know that the pathway to success is often littered with failures and setbacks. But unlike the average person who gives up prematurely, successful people know how to turn adversities into advantages, problems into potential, and failures into feedback. They embrace learning from failure. This is called failing forward.

Too many people allow failure to DEFINE them rather than REFINE them. Failure is a moment in time, not a state of being. It is an opportunity to learn and grow and try again. It’s a teacher and mentor, if we accept its help. It’s one thing to say, “I failed” and another thing altogether to say, “I am a failure.”

Don’t give up

Many people have tried and failed. The only difference between losers and winners is that losers stop trying. They give in to defeat, and accept a passing setback to define them as a person. Successful people don’t allow their HISTORY to keep them from fulfilling their DESTINY.

The lessons that you learn from failure must not be forgotten or dismissed. The experience you gain will be invaluable to you in the future. That’s why failure should not be feared. It can play a crucial role in your success story, if embraced in the right spirit.

Remember, the worst failure is failure to try. Don’t let yesterday’s FAILURE bankrupt tomorrow’s EFFORTS. Theodore Roosevelt praised the man who…

If he fails, at least fails while daring greatly!

Consider your latest setback. What important lessons can you draw from it that can help you do better next time? You won’t get it right every time, but “failing forward” can help you get maximum traction out of every failure in your personal and professional life.


Eric Deschamps | Ottawa Business Coach

Eric DeschampsBusiness Coach Ottawa

Co-Leader of Rhapsody Strategies

“Helping others succeed has always been my passion. There is no greater feeling in the world than coming alongside someone and empowering them to achieve their goals and dreams.” I work with individuals with a single and simple purpose: to help them define and attain their goals, one step at a time. Through the coaching relationship, I help business owners and professionals achieve more by delivering world-class growth strategies, tools and advice individually tailored to each owner and his/her business.