You Were Indoctrinated to Avoid Failure

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Since childhood we are indoctrinated to avoid failure. It’s embedded into our education system.

As a child, you experience failure for the first time when you fail a test. The teacher puts a big “F” on your test and immediately you learn that failure is bad.  

Our education system has been enormously successful in indoctrinating future generations into believing failure is a very bad thing. As a result, our children learn very quickly to avoid failure at all costs.

In this system, when you fail, you are berated and punished. This breaks down morale, destroys self-confidence, subdues enthusiasm, which dulls your imagination and derails you from taking risks, creating goals and pursuing dreams. As a result of this indoctrination, fear of failure stops most people early in life. It makes you less willing to take risks and more willing to do what everybody else is doing.

This is the opposite of what should be happening. When you fail at something the logical response should be to figure out where you went wrong and then apply that new knowledge and try again.

Thomas Edison did this. He failed over 10,000 times with his incandescent lightbulb. Edison was able to leverage failure, converting it into a stepping stone to success. Edison proved that there is far more value in failing than in succeeding.

You learn more from failure than you do from success because failure teaches you what doesn’t work. Failure is the most valuable lesson you can learn in life because it is like scar tissue on the brain – the pain, and learning, stays with you forever.

It takes an enormous amount of reprogramming to overcome the Failure is Bad Indoctrination. Here are some tips on how to overcome this Failure Indoctrination:

  • Fail Small – When you take small risks, the cost of failing is small – it still hurts, but the cost in time and/or money is not significant and won’t piss off a significant other. When you Fail Small you are able to learn from your mistakes and try again. This causes growth in the form of learning what doesn’t work. If you continue to persist, eventually you will figure out what does work. This learning what works and what doesn’t work builds confidence.
  • Work With Virtuosos – Vituosos have already figured out what works and what doesn’t work. If you’re fortunate enough to find a Virtuoso to work for, they will become a success mentor for you – you’ll learn from them without having to take risks and expose yourself to failure. Working for a Virtuoso is the smart alternative to learning through the school of hard knocks.
  • Read Biographies About Successful Failures – Successful people are often outliers – they take the road less traveled, meaning they don’t follow the herd. They like to do things their own way. In their biographies you’ll find an enormous amount of information about their failures and their successes. Studying the failures of successful people helps you avoid making the same mistakes. Biographies I recommend: Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, John D. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Thomas Edison, Napoleon Hill, Lou Holtz, John Wooden, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Custer’s Trials, Wizard – Nicola Tesla, Leonardo Da Vinci,



  1. Nicholas Harper on November 27, 2020 at 11:11 AM

    This was a good read. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Frank on November 27, 2020 at 8:53 PM

    Love your articles Tom.
    The first email I open in the mornings are yours.

    • pwsadmin on November 30, 2020 at 9:11 AM

      Tks Frank. Have a great day