You’ve heard it said that “Michael Jordan has missed more shots than you’ve ever taken“. Similarly, many people reach their success by failing more times than you’ve tried.
The idea is pretty clear; most everyone that is a success has tried hard and failed many times, learned from each experience, and then eventually became great.
Seth Godin, now a famous author, once received 900 book rejections in a row.
Abraham Lincoln faced a variety of failed endeavors and elections before eventually becoming president.
And Michael Jordan famously went from being someone that didn’t make the varsity basketball team early in high school to becoming one of the greatest basketball players of all time. How’d he do it? He missed a LOT of shots.
In college at UNC, Jordan missed 719 shots during his games there. That was enough misses to get him to the pros, where he missed a total of 16,402 shots (including free throws) over his career. Toss in pre-season games, pre-game warmups, pick-ups games, plus all of high school, and that number is certainly well over 20,000.
Those misses aren’t the important ones, though. For a player of his caliber, he certainly took a lot more shots in practice than in games. Shooting nearly every day of his life, I think it’s fair to say he took 10x more shots in practice than in games, putting his miss total well above 200,000 shots.
Not really — this isn’t actually about just failing. It’d be easy to come up with a slew of horrible business ideas, or just start cold-calling the every number in your area to sell to them. That’s not failing, that’s just being dumb.
To fail successfully, you need to learn. When Jordan missed a shot, he picked up another sliver of knowledge about how he shot the ball, how he was defended, and a variety of other factors.
If you have something that you think is worthwhile though, give it a shot. Maybe you’ll succeed, maybe you’ll fail, but you’ll learn either way. Your chances of success next time will hinge on what you take away from the ones that don’t work out.