Success Requires Failure It Is Not An Option

Career Success Is Full of Failure.

Success Requires FailureIt seems the almost endless rounds of social media about famous failures have subsided – finally. We get it already!

Who hasn’t heard the stories about Lincoln, Edison, Einstein, Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe, Walt Disney, Michael Jordan and many other famous figures who eclipsed their failures to become world famous. While I admire each of those examples for their achievements, I am both a bit tired of repeatedly hearing about them, and at the heart of it cannot truly relate to their personal stories. After all, their script is not mine.

Understanding Does Not Mean Relating.

I bet there are many others like me who have a disconnect when reading about how many ways Lincoln failed before he ended slavery and saved the nation. His success is on a scale not realistic to my life. As such, while I classify myself as an ambitious person who wants to dent the universe; I have no delusions that my contributions will change the world as he did.

My Version of Success Suits Me.

I am fairly content sharing my knowledge with artists and others who want to understand what I have done to carve out a successful, slightly famous career based on my specialized, insider knowledge. My current results are more than decent. My books, e-books, webinars and related materials move about as well as expected given the amount, of time and money, I have invested into creating and marketing them. These things form the foundation of greater opportunities before me now.

Malcolm Gladwell discusses the belief in his book, Outliers: The Story of Successthat it takes 10,000 hours to be highly accomplished at something. That pretty much describes me today. In the 10+ years since I left the now sadly defunct Decor magazine, I have easily put in that many hours or more working on entrepreneurial ideas and ventures. The 500 posts on this blog are the culmination of those 10,000 hours.

Contentment Does Not Mean Standing Still.

Right now, I feel more poised and ready to tackle the future and do bigger, better things than any time in the past 10 years and beyond. I know without doubt it is the time I have put in that both allows me to realize my opportunities  and gives me the confidence to know what I need to do to capitalize on them.  I am the same person as I was 10 years ago in some ways. In others, I am altogether different. It’s mostly about what I know now that I didn’t know then.

Someone once said, “Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.” I wish I could say I am immunized against making the same mistakes again, but I can’t. What I can do is use my experience to steer me back to my core goals more quickly when I do fail to stay the course.

Success Is Not Just About Accomplishing Things.

It is about facing your fears and your feelings of inadequacy and pushing through to get things done you didn’t think were possible. It is about casting off worrying what other people will think about what you are doing. It is about becoming great. It is about having clear goals and steadily taking one step after another until you meet your goals. It is about pushing the goal line further away; about never being satisfied with what you are getting done now.

There is not a person alive who couldn’t be doing more. The successful ones are those who keep moving, who understand failures are part of success and embrace them with gusto. The salesman’s creed that it takes ten “nos” to get one “yes” can be applied to almost anything. You may need more than ten failures to get to  one winning situation that pays off big time for you.

Striving Works.

Striving works when it is married to clear, realistic goals, such as my suggestion of gaining 100 collectors. No matter what you undertake to achieve, failure is a prerequisite, and part of the equation. No one gets it right all the time. The path to success is accepting failure is integral to the process. It is knowing what you want to achieve, then systematically working to accomplish your goals, and more.

Keep on Keepin’ on. I Will Meet You at the Top!

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Thoughts on Goal Setting and the Guerrilla Marketing for Artists book from Bob Killen

This is not a fragmentary presentation of how to sell art, but an organized approach filled with workable steps to achieving art sales success. What I find compelling is Barney’s real life approach to the arts. He makes it clear in the early chapters that Success, like creativity in art, is unique to the artist.

His real world direction for goals and self-evaluation anchors the artist to a starting point and then moves with career choices that will help the artist achieve his/her goals. Some readers may initially find a personal identity crisis as they examine their work, current goals and resources, but this is not a book of flash fiction, it is a systematic plan, one that anyone with the desire to sell their work can achieve.


  1. Kaye says

    I really feel your hearfelt thoughts and feelings in this article, thanks Barney. This subject, failure, is so meaningful for me. I grew up in a family where the belief has been that failure is failure. I have learned that failure is a part of the path to success. I never learned this before. I have felt because I failed, kind of like that’s it. I have thankfully learned a better mindset about failure.

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