3 Ways to Respond to Failure: Get a Bigger Nail

Stephen King hung rejection notices on a nail when he was a kid. When he turned 17, the nail fell out because of all the rejections he’d received.

What did he do with failure? He got a bigger nail.

Your most powerful stories are about overcoming failure. Image of a man sitting on a pole.

3 ways to respond to failure: Get a bigger nail.

#1. Know failure isn’t the end.

Failure is the soft underbelly of success.

Dr. Seuss tried to sell his first children’s book 27 times. He was on his way home to burn it when he ran into a college friend who just started a job with a publisher. The rest is history.

Beatrix Potter couldn’t find a publisher for The Tale of Peter Rabbit. She published it herself. It has sold about 45 million copies.

Literary Hub reports that Stephen King’s first novel, Carrie, was rejected 30 times.

King trashed his first draft of Carrie. His wife found it, unwrinkled it, read it, and told him to keep writing. Carrie sold for a $2,500 advance. It was published in 1974. He was 27 years old.

King has written 64 novels and sold about 350 million books. He’s worth over 500 million today.

#2. Hug failure; don’t push it away.

Your most powerful stories are about overcoming failure.

You won’t enjoy failing; own it anyway. The alternative to owning failure is blame. Blame guarantees you stay the same.

Tell your friends what’s hanging on your nail. You reject yourself when you push away your own stories.

The difference between success and defeat is response. Image of a person bursting up through the water.

#3. Adopt a next-time approach.

The difference between success and defeat is response.

  1. Commit to the one-more-try principle.
  2. Notice what isn’t working. Don’t repeat self-defeating behaviors.
  3. Adopt a do-differently approach. What will you do differently next time?

The more you try, the more you fail – until you don’t.

The alternative to failing is dying slowly.

What’s your advice to people who fail?