20 Reasons Why Failure is a Stepping Stone to Success

By: Katherine Abraham

By: Katherine Abraham

Let this ring in your ear: Failure is a stepping stone to success.

Why do some of the most successful people like to boast about their past failures? 

How were they able to pull it off and emerge victorious?

Some believe that what separates successful from mediocre people is the way they treat failure. 

Everyone may have work ethics and attitude but not everyone has the tenacity to face failure head on!

In this episode, we will be discussing some eye-opening facts about the real nature of failure. Let’s dig in to unravel the crucial role that failure plays to lead to success!

Failure, a Vital Element in Success

Failure to success

It would be foolish to look for legitimate articles purporting failure as an element of success. No sane person would promote such an idea!

So, why would anyone use failure as a stepping stone to success? 

Many experts offer professional, well-researched advice to contradict this suggestion. 

There is no more compelling message, however, than that of someone whose failed feats later became the backbone to their success.

Noone plans to fail yet failure is often inevitable!

Twenty Reasons Why Failure is a Stepping Stone to Success


Here are twenty striking reasons why failure is fundamental to success. In this context, perhaps you will acknowledge the role of failure on the journey to success. 

This article will help you to change your perspective about how to treat loss—possibly in ways you wouldn’t expect!

1 – It provides valuable lessons.

  • Because experience is the best TEACHER . . .

Failure is a crucial element in success due to the lessons learned.

Many successful people agree that the most challenging and useful lessons they learned were those taken from failure. Here’s a list of famous people who failed but became successful:

  1. Abraham Lincoln
  2. Charlie Chaplin 
  3. Chris Gardner
  4. Elvis Presley
  5. J.K.Rowling
  6. Mark Zuckerberg
  7. Michael Jordan
  8. Oprah Winfrey
  9. Robert Kiyosaki
  10. Stephen King
  11. Steve Jobs
  12. Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss)
  13. Thomas Edison
  14. Vincent Van Gogh
  15. Walt Disney
  • Life, an important lesson book—not to be missed!

Actual knowledge does not converge from the corners of the classroom or the pages of textbooks. The painful experience of failure often offers practical life lessons.

Abraham Lincoln received little education. A week here, a month there. His schooling never amounted to more than a year in total. He was mostly self taught, borrowing books and newspapers.

Lincoln failed early on in the course of politics, but eventually he was successful and became one of America’s most beloved presidents. He refused to allow lack of formal education or initial political failure to rattle him.

This attests that his failures were only rungs on the ladder of success.

2 – It matures the character (how you deal with failure).

  • Don’t waste negative emotions—capitalize on them!

When failure takes its toll, a wave of negative emotions take over. 

Senseless emotions are a significant stumbling block as they can dramatically and negatively affect the mind. Frequently overacting a drama leads to endless self-pity and may even result in severe mental breakdown. Everything gets wasted. 

  • Failure can encourage greater maturity.

Failures are sometimes stepping stones to success. People who are badly hurt and overcome are more likely to become the people who try not to repeat the circumstances. 

They do all they can to avoid making similar mistakes.

A reasonable control of emotions is a vital trait in someone seeking success. Facing failures head on and dealing effectively with them will lead to greater maturity.

3 – It opens a lot of opportunities.

  • Serendipity—as they say!

Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin by accident but the result led to a breakthrough in medicine. 

Many inventors gain credit for their “accidental discoveries” or by serendipity. 

In 1976 a research chemist, Shashikant Phadnis, misheard an instruction to “test” a chlorinated sugar compound that was being studied. He mistakenly “tasted” it and found it to be extremely sweet! This potentially dangerous error resulted in the accidental discovery of what became known as the artificial calorie-free Sucralose.

  • A ladder, not an escalator or elevator—there’s no easy way to success after all.

There is no easy way to success. Failure gives a reason for trying to climb higher. But you will never reach your destination without putting in some effort.

Remember, failure is a ladder, not an escalator or an elevator.

Failure leads to new opportunities. Learn, improve, change. Whatever it takes, next time around, you’ll have a better chance at success

4 – It develops resilience.

  • What lasts is what matters.

Change is the only known constant, whether referring to character, mindset, mood or natural phenomena. 

Some say, “Tough times never last, but tough people do.” 

Failures and challenges teach resilience in the end.

  • Resilience is no joke—it’s often the result of tragedy.

Failure moves you nearer to success when human resilience is the primary recourse utilized to face it. 

Pain, trauma and stress are just some of the harsh realities that accompany


Resilience converts these “tragedies” into stepping stones and by adapting to them the character can change.

5 – Wisdom is cultivated.

  • The doctoral degree for wisdom!

Information is useless if misguided or misapplied. As some experts say, knowledge without proper tools is futile. 

Failure is closely related to success because it promotes wiser decision- making. Loss offers realization and lessons learned sharpen wisdom. Good decision-making is crucial to achieving goals. 

  • Failure makes the unwise wise.

Wisdom allows a person to use and apply knowledge correctly. The bitter lessons of failure make decision-making less complicated. The difference between good and evil becomes clearer. All the succeeding acts move closer to success with greater probability. 

6 – It enables growth.

  • Failure promotes growth exponentially.

Growth is the sunshine after the storm of failure. The pathway to success is

always uphill. 

Each step undertaken is higher than the one previous. Failure plays an essential role as it promotes growth exponentially. 

Mind you, the level of development is equal to the amount of loss. 

  • Failure gives a clearer view.

The exciting part is that growth allows skipping succeeding small steps. The “giant leaps” resulting from experience enable bold moves that bypass smaller measures.

Failure leads towards success as it encourages growth enabling a better, clearer view ahead. Growth in attitude and knowledge fuels confidence in preparation for the higher bounce back. 

7 – It honestly accepts human limitations.

  • Failures bring us back to our core.

Failure is the stepping stone to success, humbling a person to accept their

limitations and loss itself.

Failure exposes human vulnerability. While we tend to be arrogant and prideful to justify our attempts, failure strikes with the reality of what is only within our control.

Arrogance prevents us from taking the first step. Failure is a bitter and compelling reminder that honest self-acceptance must always be at the core of each stepping stone towards success.

8 – It makes a person more responsible.

  • With failure we become more responsible.

When a person takes full accountability for every failure instead of directing blame outwards, a sense of responsibility prospers. Being responsible is the ultimate manifestation of a mature character.

A responsible person handles loss with grace and composure. Failure becomes a cornerstone to success as it develops an accountable person. 

Starting again from scratch is difficult when there is only sheer will at hand. But when a sense of responsibility dictates motivation, the comeback becomes more exciting. 

9 – It serves as a vaccine for future fears.

  • What cannot kill you makes you stronger.

Someone famously said, “The one that cannot kill you makes you stronger.” 

Failure is significant for success as it gives immunity against anxiety in the future. Immunity derived from the courage of the previous conquest.

While bravery rests on willpower and courage is rooted in experience and knowledge, the painful experience of failure hones courage within.

10 – It sharpens anticipative skills.

  • Future threats are effectively anticipated.

The best part of overcoming failure is that future threats can be effectively anticipated. By so doing, potential risks are assessed and managed accordingly.

Failure elevates you towards success as anticipative skills are enhanced enabling further steps to be taken. 

The painful lessons of failure teach us to be more calculative when making succeeding moves. Actions become bolder and are undertaken with increasing confidence.  

11 – You stand firm when you’re on top.

  • Failures are a series of bitter pills for learning.

Overcoming failure makes a person stand brave and strong. There is a saying that goes, “anyone can outwit an intelligent person but never a person refined by lessons of failure.”

Failure is a significant element of success as it creates a person of conviction. Conviction draws on gaining confidence, sustained through a series of bitter pills of learning. 

  • Failures solidify conviction when others try to pull you down.

At the height of success lies an even more dangerous arena. The pedestal of success is not all paradise. Lying in wait are those who would work tirelessly to bring you down. 

A successful person must solidify conviction in order to avoid being swayed by cunning words and tempting pleasures.

12 – Your story becomes a source of inspiration.

  • Failure has a story to tell.

People with dramatic stories of overcoming failures are still the best reference for dealing with our own struggles.

Failure helps us to retain success if we allow our story to inspire and set an example to others!

We can even draw inspiration for ourselves from our own experience. Assessing how far we have come and what has fuelled the journey will motivate us to move forward.

  • Albert Einstein’s Failures
  1. His teachers found him dim and slow to learn.
  2. He dropped out of school in 1894.
  3. He failed to be accepted into the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich because of poor exam results in botany, zoology and language.
  4. He renounced his German citizenship and remained officially stateless until he became a Swiss citizen in 1901.
  5. After graduating from Zurich Polytechnic he made several unsuccessful attempts to gain an assistant-teaching post; he was eventually employed in a low-grade position at the Swiss Patent Office.
  6. In 1902 Mileva Maric, a fellow college student, gave birth to their illegitimate daughter; he had to work as a private tutor in order to make ends meet.
  7. He married Maric in 1903; history is unclear as to whether their daughter was adopted or died in infancy; they went on to have two sons but divorced in 1919.
  • Albert Einstein’s Contributions
  1. He proved that the speed of light is absolute while time and space are relative.
  2. He formulated the famous E = mc2. 
  3. He won the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect.
  4. He published a paper about the Brownian motion of particles.
  5. He clearly set out how to calculate Avogadro’s number and the size of molecules.
  6. In 1910 he answered the basic question: ‘Why is the sky blue?’ in his paper about the phenomenon known as critical opalescence.
  7. In 1915 he published several  papers on General Relativity. 
  8. In 1917 he published a further paper on General Relativity marking the seminal beginning of cosmology, the behaviour of the entire universe. 
  9. He recognized that given the peculiar, dual nature of quanta as both waves and particles, it might be impossible (he warned) to definitively tie effects to their causes.
  10. Between 1905 and 1925 he transformed our understanding of nature on every scale, from the smallest to that of the cosmos as a whole. 
  11. In 1924 he published an article which described Bose’s model and explained its implications.
  12. In 1932 Einstein and de Sitter introduced the concept of ‘dark matter’, suggesting that there might be large amounts of matter which don’t emit light and are therefore undetected. 

13 – It develops an attitude.

  • Failure associated with some biblical men.

Failure is the ultimate test of a man’s attitude. 

In the Bible, Peter and Judas are good examples of how loss affects the mood. They both miserably failed their Saviour, but there is a stark contrast between attitudes.

Judas succumbed to his regret while Peter chose confession and went on to become a steward of God’s people.

Failure can be a beautiful inspiration leading to success because it refines the attitude. Pride and arrogance always lead to downfall, if not demise. 

Either shape up and change your attitude or your plan. Action without appropriate attitude guarantees failure without the hope of a definite comeback.

14 – It promotes healthy competition.

  • Bouncing off failure improves competence

Healthy competition pays more attention to the value of the journey than the desired outcome. The highlight focuses on bouncing off failure and this, in turn, unlocks healthy competition.

Failure is a stepping stone to success. It unlocks the full potential of those who bounce back from loss. Competition draws on the shared values of individuals experiencing similar struggles. Stories of perseverance, integrity and hard work prevail among people at the height of success. 

15 – Challenges become less burdensome.

  • Failure turns challenges into a piece of cake!

Challenges are the wind that comprise the storm of failure. It is worth noting that just as windspeed measures a storm’s strength, challenges are commensurate with the effect of loss.

Failure pushes you to succeed when challenges are faced head-on!

  • Honoured defeat in the midst of failure.

Challenges make failure a worthy opponent. Loss in the face of an overwhelming challenge is an honoured defeat. Similarly, shame only exists if someone avoids a challenge and still fails.

The degree of challenge provides useful intelligence as to what, even worse, might come next. Thus challenges faced become less burdensome. Failure is no longer a threat but becomes part of the sail that pushes further against the wind of challenges.

16 – It gives feedback and better assessment.

  • Failure hurts, but it loves.

Failure is the brake that stops misguided or overwhelming determination. Most of the time it hurts, but it also loves the one who embraces and learns from it.

  • The stairway to success is not always glamorous.

It serves as a stairway to success, giving feedback and allowing better room for reassessment. 

Evaluation is a valuable tool that carefully selects the next course of action. It suggests what is best and what might possibly be wrong.

17 – It imposes strict self-control.

  • Self-control, an additional ingredient to consider.

The phrase “failure is a stepping stone to success” will only materialize if all reasoning and actions are tempered with self-control at every move.

Self-control or temperance add wisdom, character, motivation and drive in the right quantities in the right place. Anything more or less is an invitation to failure. 

  • Do not lose self-control!

Exercising self-control at every step towards success is equal to the victory itself. Even at the height of failure, self-control keeps negative emotions in check.

Self-control becomes sharper with the presence of a moral conscience and the bitter lessons of failure have been learned.

18 – Benefits outweigh the risks by a wide margin.

  • Failures are gains not losses!

Benefit versus risk analysis is the basis of business decisions, from where all business models or corporate strategies evolve. 

Profit and loss, assets and liabilities and lead-lag measures are the examples of this model that drive business organizations towards their goals.

  • Don’t be intimidated by failure.

A “failure versus conquest” plan is no different. Failure is the waymark to success where the benefits are always greater than the calculated risks. 

If your goal is higher and sweeter than all the discouragements, every risk is worth taking. Don’t allow failure to undermine action. The benefits of action will far outweigh the risks. 

19 – It establishes a closer relationship with God.

  • Failure makes us realize our need for God.

Human weakness is always exposed with the onset of failure, no matter how extensive the preparation and anticipation. It is in these dire moments that the need for God is at its peak.

Failure hurls you towards success because it seeks a closer relationship with God. Prayer combined with the studying and living of God’s Word are fundamental steps for achieving genuine success.

Success without God is what King Solomon described as vanity. Success with God is what the Bible declares as “plans to prosper us.”

  • Where do we find this claim in the Bible?
  • Jeremiah 8:4

“Say to them, ‘This is what the LORD says: When people fall down, do they not get up? When someone turns away, do they not return?’”

  • 2 Corinthians 12: 9

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

  • 2 Corinthians 12: 10 

“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

  • Romans 5: 3-5

“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

  • Psalm 73:26

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

  • Proverbs 24:16 

“For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.”

20 – It gives you wisdom and courage to change course.

  • When to turn the wheel and change course?

Failure is a stepping stone to success when the nineteen reasons above are applied.

However, it’s a different story when failures become successive, even worse repetitive, despite immense efforts.

Take inspiration from Abraham Lincoln’s failures or Edison’s 10,000 mistakes. It may feel over-exhausting and impractical, for those of us today who are exposed to an easier way of life.

  • Unless the journey has bumps, it won’t be worth the ride!

“If everything goes on your way, you might be in the wrong lane.”

Failure might be God’s way of telling us to change course. Success tastes sweeter when we abide by God’s will.

So, yes! Changing direction does not mean failure. It is the boldest, most rewarding stepping stone towards success.

Blessings wrapped in failure

Don't Ignore Help From Strangers

Have you noticed that God uses failure as an answer to prayers? 

Try to consider the path to success.

There may be failed examinations, denied job applications, loss of capital or partnerships. These are just a few of the incoming threats!

But on a positive note these failures, which you use as a stepping stone, can make your character noble. 

Such a character is required for sustained success.

Along the way, God’s blessings appear to be disguised as failures, but when you reach the peak of success you will be well-equipped to sustain it!

This only proves that failure is not something to rant about or feed with self-pity. Losses are God’s way of lifting us closer to success if we seek His guidance in helping us to discover the underlying blessings!

Have you tried failing hard? How were you able to convert it into a stepping stone? Feel free to share in the comment section. We would love to include your story in the list above!

Tune in to Chasing hope podcasts and blogs for more inspiring messages and exclusive contents.

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