Failure Is Always A Choice

Have you heard the phrase, “failure is not an option?” If you have, you have heard one of the biggest lies of all time. “Failure is always an option”, or so proclaims Adam Savage from Myth Busters. I think he is on to something, but I would take it a step further: not only is failure always an option, it is the most readily available option. More than that, failure is a choice—an easy and comfortable choice.

Thomas Edison had two profound things to say about failure that is helpful in illustrating the point.

The thought that not achieving something is failure is wrong.

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. ― Thomas Edison

Most people assume that failure occurs when we fall short or do not achieve that which we set out to achieve. This is the wrong way to look at it. The most successful people in history have viewed moments of disappointment as education rather than failure. Take the famous quote from Thomas Edison as an example. Not inventing the light bulb after 10,000 attempts was not failure; it was an education in what does not work.

Failure is giving up on an idea or dream after not achieving it.

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. — Thomas Edison

If failure is not the lack of achievement, then what is it? Failure is giving up after not achieving something. Michael Hyatt recently wrote in a post titled, “How to Develop the One Trait Essential for Success” that persistence is key to success. If that is true, then it logically follows that persistence is also the key to avoid failing.

There is some liberty taken here regarding the literal meaning of the word failure, but it is to illustrate a point: failure happens all of the time. We all miss the mark a lot. Failure only becomes a reality if we accept the outcome as permanent. We are all better than the sum of our mistakes. Failure will tell you every time that you are not. Failure is a liar.

This is a guest post by Alex Stophel. Alex is 25 and lives in Indianapolis, IN with his wife Jessica. He is just getting started building his platform. You can find his blog at His goal is to provide a base for readers to share in his journey. 

By the way, I’m always looking for guest posters. If you would like to guest post, you can find the guidelines at An Invitation To Guest Post.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Shing Degano

    Your post encapsulates the essence of failure: “by not accepting the outcome as permanent and looking at it as a profound education” to better what really sticks which is relentless persistence.

    As always, thank you for what your posts brings: clear-cut insights.

  • Alex!
    I just, very recently, lived exactly your point. I was smacked in the face (quite hard) with the FACT that I had spent 90 days working very hard and finally admitted (and was told in tiny, easy to understand words) it ISN’T working! Do you know what happened? I felt good! LOL, seriously, it was completely outside of my comfort zone, vitally important (still is, the goal that is) and I learned an outrageous amount about something I would normally have had absolutely no reason to ever explore in depth! I felt the incredible weight lifted from my shoulders (which is piling back up now at an incredible rate!) and I truly feel good. It didn’t work. Cool. Next? LOL

    • You’ve touched on an important point, and something I feel very strongly about; we should live our lives in a way that when we do fail, we fail big. That might sound counter to what we’re told, but what good does it do to fail at something that doesn’t matter?