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Better to Try and Fail – or Fail to Try?

  • Dan Miller
  • 2008 20 Aug
Better to Try and Fail – or Fail to Try?


Last night I watched the 2007 movie Lions for Lambs with my son, Jared. In this movie a brilliant but apathetic student asks his professor (Robert Redford), “Is there any difference in trying but failing, and simply failing to try – if you end up in the same place anyway?” He was attempting to justify taking the safe route; never really taking a stand or trying anything big.

What do you think? Do you cringe at trying something big because of the possibility of failure? What if you tried for the promotion but failed to get it, started a business but lost your investment, or tried a MLM system but got nothing other than a garage full of vitamins – are you somehow better off? Or would your life have been better if you had avoided the hassle and the disappointment altogether?

Yes, I hear from people every day who tried and failed. One gentleman lost $11 million in a gas and oil business. Another lost $3.2 million inherited from his grandmother in a failed retail clothing business. Research shows that if you are under thirty years old, the chances that you will be fired in the next twenty years is 90 percent. Bernie Marcus was fired from a job as manager of the Handy Dan Improvement Center, then went on to start Home Depot. In 1988 I experienced a horrible “failure” in business – having to borrow a car to drive to start generating income again. Should I have avoided the pain and anguish by taking a safer route, or was that experience the necessary catalyst for learning the principles that launched the success I enjoy today? My friend Dave Ramsey lost his real estate business and suffered personal embarrasement after trying to become rich through his investments. Should he have taken a safer career path?

What has your life experience taught you about trying big things? Have you learned to keep a low profile to avoid failure? Or have you found that “failure” leads to bigger successes?

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 Dan Miller is today's leading authority and personality on careers and 'Work You LoveTM'. As bestselling author of 48 Days To The Work You Love, and now No More Mondays, Dan reaches over a million people every month ia his newsletter, podcast, and blog with the best trends and opportunities in the workplace and small business. For more information, visit