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.
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.
#3. Adopt a next-time approach.
The difference between success and defeat is response.
- Commit to the one-more-try principle.
- Notice what isn’t working. Don’t repeat self-defeating behaviors.
- 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?
Hi Dan: All your mistake yesterday did was make me really interested to hear ‘the rest of the story’. Always a pleasure to see what you have to share and this post is no different. Challenging the inclination to call it quits is a winning strategy for life!
I appreciate the encouragement, Mary. The founder of Chick-Fil-A said, “How can you tell is someone needs encouragement? They’re breathing.”
For me, the inner critique encourages me to quit.
I guees Chick-Fil-A’s corporate value on encouragement does not apply to LGBTQ+ people. They have donated over 5 million dollars to groups that oppose same sex marriage. Their chief operating officer has remarked that same sex marriage proponents are inviting the wrath of god on the USA. No worries about the spread of homophobia in this space. After all, it is probably nothing to freak out about.
Great post. Learning to lean into productive failure is key to improvement and even innovation. Repeated failure deserves analysis – IE: Why don’t I workout in the morning when that is my goal. Love the concept of a bigger nail.
THANK YOU! Your reminded us that you’re human too!
Ironic that the post where the error happened was about ways to respond to failure!
P.S.: You were right… the post WAS worth the wait!
Thank you for reminding us of of how failure pays off for racists like Dr. Seuss. One of my favorites is probably his best selling book, “And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street.” It includes an image of an Asian man with yellow skin, slanted eyes and a pigtail, holding a pair of chopsticks and a bowel of rice over the text.” A Chinaman who eats with sticks.” Theodore Seuss Geisel spread additional anti-Asian hate in the early 40’s as a cartoonist for a New York newspaper. Additional political cartoons from this USA icon referenced Japanese people as “Japs” and “animals.” For millions of USA citizens, Seuss Geisel normalized racism for his readers against Asian people. The readers of this post do the same thing when we fail to call out this systemic and structural racism that exists in the leadership empowerment space.
Thanks for sharing this,