The Anatomy of Failure: Part 2

Thomas Edison tried over 2,000 experiments before he finally got his light bulb to work. A young reporter asked him how it felt to fail so many times. He said, “I never failed once. I invented the light bulb. It just happened to be a 2,000-step process." And because of that process we not only got a really nifty invention, but also one of life’s greatest lessons about using failure to succeed.

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Thomas Edison tried over 2,000 experiments before he finally got his light bulb to work. A young reporter asked him how it felt to fail so many times. He said, “I never failed once. I invented the light bulb. It just happened to be a 2,000-step process." And because of that process we not only got a really nifty invention, but also one of life’s greatest lessons about using failure to succeed.


It’s absolutely incredible how so many famous people throughout history have basically said the same thing about failure. Each one faced their own fears and failures to become the successful people we now know. So today’s blog on overcoming failure will come from their words (and a few of my own).


The biggest stumbling block on a weight loss journey is thinking success will occur without setbacks. No matter your goals, the highest peaks of success always follow the lowest valleys of failure. However, these setbacks are just bumps in the road. Do you know how many times I’ve lost, regained and re-lost the same 20lbs? Many aggravating times, I assure you.


Also, never mistake past setbacks as a destiny of failure. They’re not permanent unless you let them be. In trying to re-lose those same darned 20lbs I learned what foods do and don’t work with my body, what exercises help me lose weight, and so on. All of that came from trying (and trying again) to invent my own weight loss light bulb.


The late Academy Award-winning actor Jack Lemmon stated, “Failure seldom stops you. What stops you is the fear of failure.” And boy, is he right. Fear kills the chance to capture success, so don’t be afraid and hide within your comfort zones. Celebrated comedian Bill Cosby said, “In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure,” and I absolutely agree. A new perspective on weight loss starts the moment you believe that you can, and will, achieve your goals even in the face of fear. Saying “I will do this” instead of “I don’t know if I can do this.” Media magnate Oprah Winfrey speaks to this well, “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.”


Whether going grocery shopping or taking vacation, you always make plans. Weight loss is the exact same process. To begin weight loss you must plan your trip toward success while also preparing for setbacks. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said, “There are no secrets to success. It’s the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”


Here are some thoughts to prepare you for the hard (mental) work of weight loss success:

  • Failure is an “inside job.” If you believe failures will happen, you’ll find a way to make them happen. So don’t let negative thoughts into your head.
  • Don’t let anyone else determine your success or failure. Winning is about your mental attitude. No one will give that to you but you.
  • Your only mistake is to risk not making one. Remember, learn from your setbacks and you will eventually succeed in losing weight, whether 5 pounds or 50.

There you have it, from all of us. Now tell me, what will make you have faith in yourself and your goals to begin this journey? This battle is not yours alone. It belongs to us all and you CAN do this. Remember, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again - kind of like that nifty light bulb invention.

Blog written by Bill Larson
Bill Ivory Larson has lost a total of 175 pounds, without surgery or a special diet. In 2005, when he moved from Chicago to...