Why No Failure is Truly Permanent

8 Lessons That Can Take You from Where You Are to Where You Want to Go

Do you remember what it was like in school to get your test back with a big, fat, red “F” written at the top? It was worse than flunking. It felt like an indictment, like a label. I’m a failure.

Those feelings stick with us and come back later in life too, don’t they? We miss a big goal. Failure. Lose a client. Failure. Get fired. Failure. Pretty soon we feel like we can’t win.

I’ve been there. I can remember sitting in the floor of an empty office with my business partner. The only thing the bank didn’t take was our phone. And the only way I could have been any lower is if there were a basement.

Flunking Out

Lewis Howes was in a similar spot. His lifelong goal of becoming an All American athlete was stopped short by significant injury in college. He rebounded and played professional indoor football for a while, but then another injury sidelined him again.

He just couldn’t get a break. The only thing more uncomfortable than the couch he was sleeping on was his growing stack of overdue bills.

It would have been easy to think the failures were permanent. Lewis could have worn those “F’s” like a label. Instead, he found another way to be a champion.

In 2008, a friend turned Lewis onto LinkedIn. He started reaching out to successful people on the network, asking them about their journeys to greatness.

Before long he became a high-level connector for CEOs and executives and developed a program for optimizing LinkedIn as a personal development tool. Later he turned his conversations with leaders and athletes and authors into a hugely successful School of Greatness podcast

Now, Lewis has taken everything he’s discovered and turned it into a book I’m personally very excited about.

Enrolling in a New School

The School of Greatness takes the lessons learned from experts in all different areas of life and shows readers how to apply them to their own journey.

I only have room to share four of the lessons he unpacks in the book. But whether you’re an entrepreneur, parent, artist, coach, change-agent, or all of the above, these will help you get from where you currently are to where you want to go.

  1. Cultivate a champion’s mindset. Whether athletic or not, champions have a unique way of seeing the world and their place in it. The spirit comes long before the awards and accolades, and it sticks around a lot longer, too. Lewis shows us how to develop this mindset.

  2. Practice positive habits. Beyond our mindset, one of the most important aspects of our success is the stuff we usually don’t think about—our habits. Lewis reveals the importance of developing a strong routine in life. Developing positive habits to replace the ones holding us back is critical for getting where we want to go.

  3. Develop hustle. Lewis tells the story of his big brother, Christian. After some bad choices as boy, Christian landed in jail. But unlike millions of other convicts, Christian exercised uncanny determination and eventually became one of the most respected and celebrated jazz violinists in the world! Honestly, the entire book may be worth the investment just for this chapter. Ultimately, you can’t stay stuck if you’re determined to move.

  4. Build a winning team. As people, we’re not meant to go it alone. And the best way for us to reach our potential is with friends and mentors rowing in the same direction. Lewis shares some tips on identifying the people you want in your boat—and the ones you are better off leaving at the shore.

The other four lessons are equally as important. They cover vision, adversity, maintaining our physical edge, and having a servant’s heart.

A Bigger Win

One of the things I love most about Lewis’ approach is that he’s not focused on just one or two aspects of life—finances, relationships, health, and so on. He gives us the big picture and shows how all the areas of our life intersect for an even bigger win.

At the start of the book, Lewis asks the following questions:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you stand for?
  • What’s your dream?
  • What type of legacy do you want to create?
  • How can we become great together?

If you’re staring at an “F” right now, it’s worth spending some time with these questions. And after reading The School of Greatness I’d be surprised if your answers don’t start looking like a plan to get up and get moving again.

Question: What’s the worst failure you’ve ever experienced and how did you overcome it?