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Success and Failure

  • I think success has no rules, but you can learn a great deal from failure.

  • Most successes are unhappy. That's why they are successes — they have to reassure themselves about themselves by achieving something that the world will notice ... The happy people are failures because they are on such good terms with themselves that they don't give a damn.

  • I needn't tell you that success and failure prove nothing — the whole thing is a lottery. It's pleasant to succeed; but for a philosophic mind it oughtn't to be very upsetting to fail.

    • George Sand,
    • 1874, in Francis Steegmuller and Barbara Bray, eds., Flaubert-Sand: The Correspondence ()
  • ... to Hans failure had no more moral significance than success.

  • We forget that often great success comes to us in the shadow of apparent failure.

  • More people are ruined by victory, I imagine, than by defeat.

  • I can't tell you how to succeed, but I can tell you how to fail: Try to please everybody.

  • ... the new women in politics seem to be saying that we already know how to lose, thank you very much. Now we want to learn how to win.

  • Is it age, or was it always my nature, to take a bad time, block out the good times, until any success became an accident and failure seemed the only truth?

  • Success and failure are not true opposites, and they're not even in the same class. I mean, they're not even a couch and a chair.

  • Nothing succeeds like failure.

  • Nothing fails like success; nothing is so defeated as yesterday's triumphant Cause.

  • What is generally regarded as success — acquisition of wealth, the capture of power or social prestige — I consider the most dismal failures. I hold when it is said of a man that he has arrived, it means that he is finished — his development has stopped at that point.

    • Emma Goldman,
    • "Was My Life Worth Living?" in Harper's Magazine ()
  • Success is built on disappointment, and disappointment is inherent in all success.

    • Bette Davis,
    • in Charlotte Chandler, The Girl Who Walked Home Alone: Bette Davis ()
  • Books succeed, / And lives fail.

  • ... the sheer rebelliousness in giving ourselves permission to fail frees a childlike awareness and clarity. ... When we give ourselves permission to fail, we at the same time give ourselves permission to excel.

  • What is important is not that you have a defeat but how you react to it. There is always the possibility to transform a defeat into something else, something new, something strong. All the good stories, all the people we remember are the ones who do this, who make victories out of their failures. Because the victories teach nothing. The victories are not useful. They are often dangerous.

  • ... accept failure as part and parcel of life. It's not the opposite of success; it's an integral part of success.

  • If one lives long enough, one sees that every victory sooner or later turns to defeat.

  • People don't know the consolations of being unsuccessful ... If I had been successful I should have had no peace or time.

  • It has been said that genius is only the power of making continuous effort. The line between failure and success is so fine that we scarcely know when we pass it. We are told that there is no failure, except in no longer trying — no defeat, except from within, no really insurmountable barrier save our own weakness of purpose.

  • What separates the winners from the losers is that winners are able to handle problems and crises that they never imagined would occur. You hit the floor, but what counts is how fast you can get up and regroup. Failure is simply part of the equation.

  • It really seems as if failure and hardship make more of a human being of folks than success.

  • It is nothing to succeed if one has not taken great trouble, and it is nothing to fail if one has done the best one could.

  • ... every victory is also a defeat. Nobody gets anything for nothing.

  • Every great work, every big accomplishment, has been brought into manifestation through holding to the vision, and often just before the big achievement, comes apparent failure and discouragement.

  • Victory fades so quickly that it is scarcely apparent and it is always the face of defeat that we are able to see.

  • ... the face of victory often resembles the face of defeat.

  • Apparent failure may hold in its rough shell the germs of a success that will blossom in time, and bear fruit throughout eternity.

  • ... it often doth befall, / He who conquers loses all.

  • Success is a public affair. Failure is a private funeral.

  • Some of the biggest failures I ever had were successes.

  • No one can become a winner without losing many, many times.

  • O in success there often lurks a failure / That feeds upon the soul in hidden shame, / And in defeat there sometimes rests a triumph / Greater than fame.

  • It doesn't matter how many times you fall down. What matters is how many times you get up.

  • Success comes in cans, failure comes in can'ts.

    • Gladys Milton,
    • in Wendy Bovard and Gladys Milton, Why Not Me? ()
  • The most important lesson that failure can teach is that there is something in the human spirit which is strengthened by disasters large and small. The greatest humans are those who, despite the most bitter setbacks, nevertheless keep right on going — surprising even themselves by their powers of perseverance.

  • ... success is its own reward, but failure is a great teacher too, and not to be feared.

  • People fail forward to success.

  • ... success and failure are both greatly overrated but failure gives you a whole lot more to talk about.

  • If you can't fail then how can you possible develop as a communicator or as a creator of anything? We are locked into a deeply unhealthy notion that somehow you've got to succeed all the time. An appalling notion. Any painter or writer will tell you that that is no way to proceed. One of the things that will kill off a decent actor, especially a young actor early on and they will never recover from it, is too much success. It's disastrous. You stop being criticized, therefore you stop challenging yourself. You then can't afford to fail because there's too far to fall.

  • Failure may be cruel, but success is crueller still. The gods are usurers, you know; they lend to mortals, but they exact a desperate interest.

  • It may be lonely at the top, but it's so fucking crowded at the bottom.