“Successful Failure?”

Dan, I would like to hear more of your thoughts on failure.  Since most of us who are trying to live a life with “No More Mondays” are probably going to fail several times, what does a “successful failure” look like?  How much should we risk in pursuit of our dreams?  As you often say, we must not be paralyzed by our fear of failure but I doubt you would suggest that we risk our marriages, health, homes, etc. while seeking to reach our goals.  What do you think is the right balance in this area?  Thanks, Eric

Great question Eric.  And I believe there really are “successful failures” in business.  That is not an oxymoron. Napoleon Hill once said: “Failure seems to be nature’s plan for preparing us for great responsibilities.”

So part of the issue is – Do you want to do something great – in any area?  If you are content with mediocrity in your life, then you will try to protect yourself from any failure.   Just recognize the trade-off.  

But here’s an important distinction:  It’s not just what you do in a job or your business that will identify you as a success or a failure.

  • Not having “date nights” or saying “I love you” daily will put your marriage at risk of failure.
  • Spending 65 hours a week at your job will put your emotional well-being at risk of failure.
  • Eating Twinkies and Big Macs and not exercising will put your health at risk of failure.
  • Financing a car or paying more than the equivalent of one month’s income in cash will put your financial health at risk of failure.
  • Spending less than an hour a day on spiritual and personal development sets you up for the risk of failure.
  • Expecting a company to continue giving you a paycheck puts you at risk of failure.

These are ways people set themselves up for “failure” totally aside from whether they pursue a No More Mondays work option.  The counterpart to this is, if you are successful in all the areas mentioned above, then “failure” in a business venture is not crippling.  It is simply one area in which to readjust and start again.  I’ve heard that Richard Branson will not invest in any company unless the person in charge has failed at least twice.  I’m convinced that had I not had a major failure in business a few years ago – leaving me with a $430,000 loss – that I would have continued with an unrealistic view of my golden touch.  I think I needed that experience to open my eyes – not to make me cynical, but to help me create a more solid business structure going forward.

I’m also totally convinced that someone who commits suicide upon losing a job or business had neglected excellence and success in the more important areas of life.  Having rich deposits in relationships, spiritual well-being, health and social connections act as a buffer in carrying you through any temporary business failure.  Whether you have a job, volunteer your time or start the next Microsoft – none of these alone will determine the success of your life. 

So here’s what I recommend for risking in a No More Mondays work option:

  • Take responsibility for where you are – whether good or bad.
  • Continue making deposits of success in the physical, spiritual, personal development, and relationship areas of your life.
  • Pursue work that engages your passions as well as your abilities.
  • Weigh the financial requirements very carefully.  Personally, I have seven different areas of revenue generation in my small business.  That way if one “fails” it’s not devastating. 
  • Recognize that a temporary financial loss does not need to be the end of your business venture. It’s probably just a wake-up call, helping you to readjust for bigger successes in the future. Make the adjustment and know that you are now closer to ultimate success.

So Eric, recognize that many people “risk failure in their marriages, health, homes, etc.” while desperately trying to hang on to a “real job.”  Identifying your passion, creating a careful plan of action, and moving into a No More Mondays work venture may be the very thing to reduce risk and increase your opportunity for true success.  Thanks for asking.


“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs,

even though checkered by failure…than to rank with those poor

spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live

in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

                                      Theodore Roosevelt

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7 Responses to ““Successful Failure?””

  1. Paul Babelay Says:

    Hi Dan,

    Nice post. As a full-time musician for over 25 years, I’ve experienced and seen the extreme highs and lows of “success” among my fellow artists. It’s a difficult business to navigate on the best of days, and the lows are brutal.

    The hardest thing for artistic types is to separate the person from the “gift”. We take it personally when someone doesn’t purchase our songs or hire us to perform. Our job security is as good as our last gig.

    Then there is the element of fad vs musicianship… what if you were hired because you can look, sound & act like a sex-starved, drug-crazed moron. Could you lip-sync at your board meetings? This business rewards it.

    Thankfully, 1x a year we get the GRAMMYs… ah yes. There’s some real music for you. These moments truly inspire. The best of American music.

    True, occasionally we get a crumb of honest skill & musicianship not dependent on 10 pole dancers and smoke machines… But even then, if it weren’t for the Producers & Players, most of the “artists” can’t hold a tune in a big bucket.

    Believe it or not, I’m not terribly sarcastic. I’m old enough to laugh at it & healthy enough to not take it personally. But it is what it is… the music BUSINESS.

    I’ve helped many younger musicians & writers learn musical and personal skills for survival in this arena. Unlike college degrees with potential careers (Believe me, there are more potential jobs for accountants than songwriters), we have to cut our own path. There will be no stimulus plan mentioned for us this week.

    In two days I have a recording session I am producing. After several weeks of “succesfull

  2. Paul Babelay Says:

    sorry, I hit the “submit” button. (this is pt. 2)

    The fun, potentially stressful, aspect is how we’ll try and fail several times. We’ll experiment until we find the best groove, parts, nuances for the songs. Our “failures” will be very important to the final success.

    You also reminded me of why I decided to begin building the website business my wife and I are launching.

    I found myself smack-dab in a mid-life crisis several yrs ago when a good friend gave me “48-Days” to read. I mumbled through it, but instantly liked your heart and style. I wasn’t looking for a new career, but definitely some rekindled passion.

    Some of my work had to phase out. Things that I’ve musically niched in for 10 – even 20 years are slowly dying. Who you gonna’ call… 🙂

    Having also been a Music Pastor over the years, caused me to be even more guilt-ridden about this sort of crisis/depression because we’re supposed to know better. We’re immune to this – we counsel others. I’m sure you know the drill.

    Anyway, the tone of your post here is just dead on. My new songwriting site is part of the fruit of my mid-life naval gazing parade… (yes, I’m out of it). I had to come to the end of myself to be reminded of really simple things…What do I enjoy. Where is my time best spent? Who do I enjoy working and playing music with.

    I’ve got a lifetime of experience playing, teaching and writing music. How do I best use it???

    My wife of 15 yrs was amazing through it all. We’ve got a great marriage, have done a good deal of marriage coaching ourselves, and love working together. We have written plays & musicals together over the years – she’s a lyricist and dancer. I might add we have 3 awesome daughters that keep us in shape.

    I am truly thankful to God that I didn’t go off and do anything really stupid while in those dark days. Before, I never had ANY empathy for a man doing some of those ridiculous antics… but brother, I understand now. It’s a dark, dark time of life.

    I’m not sure how or if some of my experience is supposed to be in our website… time will tell. I know I’ll be recommending your material when possible.

    Blessings to you, Dan. I enjoy your material and know that yes, you do make a difference. PB

  3. Jared Matthew Kessler Says:

    Great post Dan!

    I always say, “Maybe things have to NOT work out in order to force you in the direction you REALLY need to go.” Going through challenges are always one of the most difficult things, however, after going through it I usually look back and say, “Now I understand why I had to go through what I went through.” 🙂

    Examples? I met my girlfriend of 2 1/2 years now at one of the worst jobs I had. My former mentor (aka – “The Billionaire”) I met in my 177.5 square foot bachelor apartment (where my book was formed). I wrote my most profitable/fun album living in the back garage of this lady’s house I was living out of and is currently playing on shows on Mtv… and… on and on and on. 🙂

    Jared Matthew Kessler
    (Author of “The Poet and the Billionaire”)

  4. Bithlo Says:

    Nice post Dan. Thank You.

  5. Joe Says:

    Hi Dan,

    This is a great post! I am an aspiring motivational speaker, voiceover artist, and coach. I find the one thing that holds me back is fear of lack of money and ultimately, this stops me from moving forward. I know where my strengths lie and I am confident in my abilities, but lack of money is my biggest obstacle.

    Any advice from posters is appreciated.

    Thanks! God Bless.

  6. Weise Says:

    It’s so cool, thank for your post

  7. Fitzmorris Says:

    This is first time I visit your site.
    You have a great post.
    Thank you.

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