The “F” Word: Failure Quotes

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“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” –Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa

Aleta Margolis

“My favorite word is ‘yet.’ I haven’t figured it out, yet. It doesn’t work, yet.” –Aleta Margolis, Ashoka Fellow and founder of the Center for Inspired Teaching

Barack Obama

“It’s not that I don’t engage in a lot of self-reflection here.  I promise you, I probably beat myself up even worse than [White House correspondents do] on any given day.  But I’ve also got to wake up in the morning and make sure that I do better the next day, and that we keep moving forward.” –U.S. President Barack Obama, facing press on the early phases of the rollout of the U.S. Affordable Care Act


“We are all failures – at least the best of us are.” –J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan

 JK Rowling

“So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged.” –J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books

Jeff Bezos

“It’s not an experiment if you know it’s going to work.” –Jeff Bezos, Chair and CEO,


 Wayan Vota

“In Silicon Valley, failure is a rite of passage. If you’re not failing, you’re not considered to be innovating enough.” –Wayan Vota, organizer of the third annual FAILFaire conference

Nikki Giovanni

“I really don’t think life is about the I-could-have-beens. Life is only about the I-tried-to-dos. I don’t mind the failure, but I can’t imagine that I’d forgive myself if I didn’t try.” –Nikki Giovanni, poet and activist


Sochirio Honda

 “Success represents the 1% of your work, which results from the 99% that is called failure.” –Soichiro Honda, founder of Honda Motor Company


NEXT: Our Best Resources to Help You Cope With Failure

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