“I don’t believe in failure. There’s either success or learning.” ~Jen Rozenbaum, Jenerations

I recently took an amazing photography class from Jen at creativeLIVE. (And if you’ve never heard of creativeLIVE, you should absolutely check it out; free online learning). She spent time talking about being an artist and how if you want to succeed and want your creativity to flourish, you have to let yourself take risks and either succeed (yay) or make mistakes (that you learn from). I think it kind of goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: you can’t ever get to the finish line unless you keep going.


  • The company Rovio made 51 attempts at a successful app before they came up with Angry Birds (which has now been downloaded 1 billion times).
  • Steve Jobs got fired from Apple, the company he started. He once said: “Getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.” When he came back to Apple, he went on to make it one of the most successful companies in the world.
  • Oprah Winfrey (billionaire, television network owner, among many other things) was fired early on in her career from her job as a reporter because she was, according to her producer, “unfit for television news.”


Because I don’t want you (or me) to give up after three or thirty or three hundred tries. I want you to reframe your experiences (anything you’re now calling failures) so you can learn from them and move on. Lamenting your mistakes and failures just keeps you stuck in the same place wishing for what could’ve been (I know, I’ve done it).

If it’s a learning experience, well then it’s not personal, it doesn’t reflect badly on you, and that opens you up to doing a better job the next time. And it really is true (I can attest to it!) that you learn more from your mistakes than you do from your successes. As an artist and a person, I’d rather keep growing which means I have to keep moving forward and upward.


I’m gonna make a choice right now to not believe in failure either: only success or learning, success or learning. I hope you’ll adopt that mantra too.

So do you believe in failure? Please feel free to share your thoughts & experiences in the comment box below.


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Shelli Johnson

Shelli Johnson is an award-winning author and journalist. Her debut book, Small as a Mustard Seed, has been heralded as “a superbly-crafted and reader-engaging novel” that will “run you through an emotional marathon at a sprinter’s pace.” Learn more about Shelli here. Keep in touch through her newsletter or subscribe to her blog.

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10 Responses to Why You Need To Stop Believing In Failure

  1. Honey Apostos says:

    I always get something positive I can work from with your posts.

  2. Thanks for another uplifting post, Shelli. :-)

  3. Thanks again Shelli for sharing this encouraging reminder that mistakes should be learning experiences and not looked upon as failure :D

  4. Ok, Shelli, you’ve sold me. I’m in! Seriously, thanks for the pep-talk. Lord knows I can use it. It’s very easy to dwell on the bad or the lack of things happening. For me, I really must focus on two things: 1) I started writing again because I didn’t want to go to the grave with regret; and 2) People are enjoying my work. Perhaps the number isn’t in the millions, but I’m not in that grave just yet, so there must still be time. Right? :)
    Have a great week, my friend. *waves*


    • Hi Jimmy! *waves right back*

      I’m glad that you’re in; now we’re all in it together. :) I think the hardest thing, at least for me, is the lack of things happening. My husband keeps telling me that it’s a lesson in patience. Sadly, I’m not good at patience. I’m glad you’ve switched the focus; I’ve had to do the same so that I’m happy with the work regardless of the outcome. And yes, you’re still breathing, so it’s not too late. I remind myself of that too.

      Thanks for the good wishes. Hope you have a great week too. *hugs*

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