To live boldly makes failure inevitable. To not live boldly means you fail by default – this is failure by inaction.

Failure by not acting is a type of failure not really noticed: failure by stealth. As Wayne Gretzky famously said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. You fail by not acting.

Failure by inaction means you never really tried, never played a hand, never swung for your full potential; perhaps you never even entered the playing arena.

Either way, it seems that failure is an unavoidable part of life.

The real problem is that failure by action is doing much of the heavy lifting of the criticism.

Failure by (in)action

It’s worth remembering, however, that it’s because people leave dreams unfulfilled, songs never sung, books never written and cures never discovered that the graveyard is considered to be the wealthiest place on earth.

This is failure by inaction at play. The output of its insidious spread into our psyche.

“Our greatest growth comes from our times of greatest struggle.”

It’s worth remembering the common clichéd adage, that ‘our greatest growth comes from our periods of greatest struggle’. This provides strength that we need not be worried about failure by action.

The greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan, said, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

If this is true, then failure is not really the problem at all. Rather, it’s our response to it and our relationship with it. Failure(s) can be our greatest teachers, guides and advancers of our progress.

A positive response to setbacks

The marriage of failure and a positive response provides a force of reckoning. It has birthed the great entrepreneurs and artists of our world; history is littered with them.

The Harry Potter books of the world would never have been written had it not been for the failures of Joanne (J.K.) Rowling, which she has so publicly acknowledged. Rockets heading to Mars would never be planned had it not it been for Elon Musk’s spaceX learning from failed launch attempts.

So let’s sit down with failure, let’s invite it in respectfully and gracefully. Let it provide the hidden and dormant lessons it has in store for us. Let’s instead use failure, exhaust her potential and sap the marrow from her bones. For without failure, our greatest dreams may never be realised. We will drift toward the graveyard and bury with us our great and hidden gifts.

I dare you to come and learn more, it’s time for action not another chance at inaction.


Join us at F-OFF, the Fear of Failure Forum, to discover how you can celebrate failure as a tool for growth. Get your tickets here.


A former tax lawyer, Matthew Eakin decided to follow his true passion in life and co-founded Himalayan adventure company, Hike Himalayas. He also also runs youth tours in the Himalayas through his company, Himalayan Schoolies.