The Post College Professional

6 Inspiring Failure Stories

Posted by Michelle McGuire on Sep 20, 2019

Tags: Your next career move

We’ve heard the same success stories over and over again. They always involve the same storyline: a person had a goal, worked really hard, and achieved that goal. Whether our parents or our favorite celebs tell these stories, they’re meant to inspire us to work towards our own success.

But where are the stories about people who worked hard and then failed? Failure stories are just as important as success stories in defining who we are and how we approach work and life. Read, watch, and attend your way through the following list to learn from overlooked stories all about failure:

Read How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life: Scott Adams, the creator of the comic strip Dilbert, has likely failed at more things than anyone you know. Before he was a cartoonist, he failed at starting his own restaurant, building an online business, and creating a computer game. And that list doesn’t even include everything.

Watch a TED Talk (or two or three): The TED playlist on the benefits of failure serve up failure stories with a major side of inspiration. The playlist touches on celebrating failure (counterintuitive, I know), embracing our regrets, and considering the role “near wins” play in our lives.


Read about famous failures: Did you know Steven Spielberg was rejected from film school twice? Or that Arianna Huffington’s second book was rejected by 36 publishers? Peruse this list of 8 successful people who experienced failure here and 21 famous failures here.

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Watch Losers on Netflix: What happens when you’re known primarily for your failures? Losers tells the stories of people or teams who are considered “losers” in sports. You don’t have to be a sports fanatic to relate to just how life-changing failure can be when your entire life is about winning or losing.

Read Failure: Why Science Is so Successful: Science is all about failure. The research process relies on trial and error and views failure as essential. We’re used to reading about all the scientific breakthroughs, but what about all the missteps along the way?

Ask those around you: One of the easiest ways to learn more about failure is to ask those around you. Ask your parents, mentors, and friends about what they consider to be a failure in their life and what they learned from it. You might be surprised by what failure stories they have in their back pockets.

At the end of the day, failing is just as universal as success. Work hard and hopefully you’ll succeed, but there’s a chance you won’t. But just know you’re not alone in your messy path to success and you might have a really epic failure story to add to the list one day.

New goals and motivations come from failure stories. What are yours?! Take the quiz to find out. 

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