The Masters of the Mind:
Mindset Essentials # 2 Succeed or Fail

The Masters of the Mind

Mindset Essentials # 2: Succeed or Fail

Note: This article was written in a slightly different version for the website and can be accessed at:

Previously I’ve written about Mindset Essentials, which are core beliefs, mind habits or key elements of your mental approach which I believe have the greatest impact on your results in life.

Today we’re going to explore The Masters of the Mind’s Mindset Essentials #2: Succeed or Fail.  This is perhaps one of the most underrated ingredients in developing the powers of the mind, so I’d like to explore with you the concept most people have regarding  the word “fail” or “failure“.

Even if you are already considered a success in any area of your life, this is one of those words that your mind often automatically reacts to because of the meaning & significance most of society attaches to this four letter word.

In recent years there has been a troubling trend among Japanese high school students  committing suicide because they did not pass their college entrance exams or were not accepted into a university.   Obviously these students firmly believed in their mind that  getting into the right college was a critical step in their future success.

We don’t have time to go into the societal pressures those students must’ve faced, but it’s a compelling and frightening example of how powerful & influential the meaning of a word can be to a group of people.

But I invite you to consider what meaning you attach to the words succeed or fail.  You have the ability and the power to choose a meaning that impacts you favorably or negatively.

“But you can’t change the meaning of a word!”   I know some of you are thinking this right now.   My own friends & family have argued this point with me.  I am glad they did because it brings up a fantastic opportunity to open up our minds and learn more info to help us with our own personal success secrets.

Wikipedia defines the word “fail” the same as “failure“.  In fact, it just re-directs you from “fail” right to “failure“.  Bless their all inclusive souls.  That act alone–of slapping the words together to be interchangeable–is worthy of a separate blog post.  But let’s keep on track.

They define the word as “the condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective” which would be harmless and semi-useful if they stopped there.  But they add in this delightful kicker, “and may be viewed as the opposite of success“.   Yeah, there’s the old kick in the teeth….

But here’s where it gets interesting!  That’s only their definition of the word.   Let’s go to a more traditional, in-depth source: Webster’s Dictionary.

Webster defines the word entirely different:  To fall short, to fade away, to become absent, to become deficient.

There’s multiple definitions including the dreaded “to be unsuccessful” and the dire “to stop functioning normally (the patient’s heart failed).”

And that is more empowering for sure.  But here’s where I argue the gold is for everyone.  This is where I adamantly believe the success secrets are in this word.

Fail” orginates from the Latin word fallere, to deceive or disappoint.

Do you see that?  The word originally meant “to deceive or disappoint”.   Over the centuries it has been used in such ways to take on a meaning it likely was never intended to fulfill.

This is where I firmly agree with great friends & mentors I’ve studied with such as Kevin Hogan, Paula Abdul and Dan Kennedy.

I know, that’s as diverse a group of 3 friends or mentors you’re likely to find anywhere but I love each of them & am grateful for having them in my life.

The cool thing is they each teach in their own unique style to regard failing as just a result, a piece of data for you to make note of as you pick yourself up off the ground and reset your options for your next efforts for taking more shots at what you want to accomplish.

Far too often as I was growing up and even as I went about life in my 20′s & 30′s, people I knew often equated failure as the exact opposite of success; as though the two were light years away from each other.  Such a belief or viewpoint couldn’t be further from the truth I’ve experienced in my life.

I’ve found it to be the exact opposite:

I’ve found that success & whatever you experience that you label as “failure” are linked so closely together they might as well be the heads & tails of the same coin.

They are so close to each other that only a slim edge of perception seperates success from failure.

You’ve heard the stories about someone giving up & some stranger comes along & succeeds right where the other person quit.  Or the stories of someone ready to give up but instead they pushed through their disappointment & suddenly had incredible success soon after stepping past where they had wanted to quit.   Sometimes those are simply motivational speeches but most of those stories are borne from real life experiences where success was within reach even when they had thought they had failed.

I know this has been a long post but I hope it’s made you think and reassess how quickly or carelessly you may or may not throw about the words “fail” or “failure” and what you have them mean and how much power and real estate you grant them inside your heart and your head.  Because when you strip this dangerous word of it’s current meaning you can shift the way you see your life & start to recognize how close you are to the edge of success.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this Mindset Essentials topic and how you’ve lived with the word “fail” throughout your life.

I’ll leave you for now with this piece of Masters of the Mind wisdom:

“We always think of failure as the antithesis of success, but it isn’t.  Success often lies just the other side of failure.”  Leo F. Buscaglia


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10 Responses to The Masters of the Mind:
Mindset Essentials # 2 Succeed or Fail

  1. Sonya Lenzo says:

    I love the idea that we dont need to jump in the lake because of failure. Success may be just around the corner. Today my sister and I were talking about the things that seemed like failures at the time, but turned out to have positive consequences.
    Sonya Lenzo

  2. Neil Dhawan says:

    Excellent article, Michael! Internally, I cringed when I read the words “fail” and “failure” – as the definition I was taught was that it is the opposite of success. And then you brilliantly defined what the word truly means and it was as if a weight had been lifted and I could breathe again. Amazing how the power of words can make us feel – even when they are defined incorrectly.

    Stay Amazing and Do Great Things, Neil

  3. Michael, you have always done a great job of explaining success and failure. I like the way that your information is systematic and real with a special touch.

    Scott Sylvan Bell
    What body language is
    Now go implement!

  4. Dennis Perry says:

    Great article Michael.

    I am on the side of your mentors; failure is simply another lesson in life, another step on the way to success. It is all in how we frame it and that is dependant on our paradigms or operating systems.

    If we have non-supporting beliefs, they can be changed into more empowering ones and this is a great place to start!

    Prescription for Wealth

  5. Why do you think Wikipedia combined the 2 words definitions, or redirected instantly?

    Thanks for the article

    Mark Hogan

    • Michael says:

      I think the short answer is because Wikipedia entries are not always well-researched, verified or of high quality. Some Wikipedia info is terrific but some leaves a lot to be desired because it’s hastily written and there are no standards required.


  6. I think everyone hates to fail, so your suggestions for reframing failure are extremely useful. I know I’ve always had trouble with the idea of failing so I appreciate this post!

    Cherie Miranda

    Meditation For Stress Reduction

  7. Kevin Bettencourt says:

    Very inspiring! The core beliefs that success and failure are black and white with no grey is the incorrect mental approach. My mindset is the only people who really fail are those who stop trying.

  8. Eva Palmer says:

    Over the years I have changed my relationship with the word success. I used to avoid it when I was younger…and maybe I still do sometimes. But with time I have come to realize that most of the things i have accomplished came after few failures…

    ¿Fumar tiene alguna ventaja?

  9. Clare Delaney says:

    What aninspiring post!
    I suppose our negative assosciations with “fail” start early – at school “do your homework or you’ll fail the test” and failing the test was bad. When I first heard Kevin Hogan say that some projects would make money and others wouldn’t, and that that was OK, it was quite an eye-opener! Thanks for reinforcing that concept in your super post!

    EcoExpert recycling tips you want to know

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