Why /do we fail

Why Do We Fail?

"The secret of life is to fall seven times and to get up eight times." — Paulo Coelho

I was a poor student in the 7th grade, and worse still wasn’t even trying. There were 30 students in my class and I believed strongly that I was the least-performing student among them. 

Of course, being a poor student comes with its demerits. I was practically the joke of the class. However, this didn’t bother me at all. I barely passed my 7th-grade exam, and luckily got admission into the 8th grade.

I crawled through my 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th up till my 10th grade. However, things changed in my final exams in 10th grade. For the first time, I got A+ in most of my subjects. This was when things began to change for me.

My fellow student’s perceptions of me changed. Suddenly I became “the student”, one of the most intelligent. Overnight, it seemed, I had become the envy of my classmates.

However, nothing happens without a cause. I knew within me that I had put in the effort, and changed my attitude toward life to have had the results I was getting. Yes, the results were shocking to me, but I did the work.

BJ Fogg in his best-selling book, Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything explains in detail that all we need to achieve great things is in developing tiny habits. It is always the little things that count. 

I in retrospect also believe that I was able to turn my grades around by developing little habits. Some of these habits included being competitive. Suddenly I really wanted to be ahead of my classmates. 

I began showing up for tests and classes regularly; I was eager to learn more, and I stopped wasting my time on gossip and other things that distract me from achieving my academic goals. I efficiently managed my time and completed the courses well before exams.

Overall, I came to realize that there are several reasons why we fail, and why we may never live up to our expectations. However, the reasons are never hidden. And by truly reviewing ourselves, we will know what we need to do to change our circumstances.

Why /do we fail

Reasons for failure

The causes of failure are diverse. The first step therefore to dealing with failure is to identify the cause. Once you can figure out the reasons why you are not getting the required results for an endeavor, you are 50 percent away from success.

Joel Osteen's popular quote very well describes the above sentiment. According to him; 

You must make a decision that you are going to move on. It won't happen automatically. You will have to rise up and say, ‘I don’t care how hard this is, I don’t care how disappointed I am, I’m not going to let this get the best of me. I’m moving on with my life.

I realized quite late but luckily that my success was in my hands when I was in 10th grade. I could have continued nonchalantly, pretending not to care that I was a horrible student. But just as Joel Osteen said, I decided my failure will not get the best of me.

So, below are a few reasons why we all fail. Some of the biggest failures in my life have been linked to one or a combination of the reasons listed below.

We don't like to be called a failure

Ironically, the biggest cause of failure is the fear of failure. Most of us don't try because we don't like to fail. We are more scared of what will think will happen when we fail than the results of not actually pursuing our goal.

The fear that people will doubt your talents, and abilities; mock you, and probably disassociate themselves from you when you fail can push you to inaction. For many, the fear of failure is more than the joy of success. 

The book The Fear of Failure: How To Become An Action Taker, Stop Worrying, Overcome Procrastination and Perfectionism by Wilda Hale postulates that the fear of failure is behind most procrastination and perfectionism.

However, you must understand that failure is a huge part of success. The truth is if you don't pursue your dreams because of the fear of failure, you will never achieve them. If you do pursue your dream, that dramatically increases the chances of success by more than 50 percent.

We quit it too soon

Success most times takes time, therefore patience is a virtue. You need to have patience. Unfortunately, it is way easy to simply give up after a first attempt at our desires. It is always easier to simply blame our luck.  

There is a misconception that all successful people are lucky, that they at just one attempt got all that they have. But, nothing is farther from the truth than this. Successful people are a product of much perseverance rather than blind luck. 

According to Norman Vincent Peale, “It is always too early to quit”.  Success is the outcome of continuous efforts; We must keep on trying, failing, learning, applying, and trying again. This is the only way to taste tremendous success

We compare with others

We often compare our success with the success of other people. Rather than learning from successful people, we envy them. We don't heed what they do to succeed.

One of the first things I remembered doing to change my grades was making friends with the smartest kids in my class. This habit has since stuck with me. All my success story today has been in one way or another influenced by those I look up to.

This amazing article by Forbes explains some of the effects of consistently comparing ourselves to others. It states that the feeling of worthlessness and being demonized is linked to the habit of comparing oneself to others.

The best way to relate with people more successful than you are is to learn from them. Let the words of the great scientist Albert Einstein be your watchword, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” 

We don't review our progress

This is one of the easiest and most efficient ways to improve ourselves for success. We can easily find out where we're doing poorly, where we need to give more time, and where we're missing things.

Daily review is important because it makes us accountable. These regular checks can correct our ways before we lose our focus. Only 10 minutes of daily review can have a major impact on our performance.

My grades seemed sudden to most of my classmates. But I remember vividly that, I started early with homework, tests, and projects. I would always go back home to evaluate what I was doing well and where I needed help.

It was from evaluating myself that I was able to know where I needed help and which of my classmates I needed to befriend. This is the power of reviewing one’s progress.

We're not consistent

Consistency is key to your success. I established earlier that it takes the little things to make a great change. Well, it is consistency that builds up the little things into the massive force that changes things.

If you don't show up daily for your important things, it is a reflection that they are no longer important. However, with consistency, you build up the momentum required to. Consistency builds up momentum and improves our chances of success.

Brian Tracy in his book “The Power Of Self Discipline: No Excuses” explains that consistency is a by-product of self-discipline. You learn it, and it would cost you but it pays.

We don't love what we do

A lack of passion for something is often why many people fail at it. This is quite understandable as nobody would like to work on things that don't interest them.

In 10th grade, I had a couple of subjects I hated, Maths being one of them. Of course, I didn't get an A in these subjects, but I at least put in all the required efforts to make sure that at least, I didn't fail. 

So, if you find yourself in a position where you must do something you have no passion for, but cannot avoid, then simply try your best and move on. Mark Twain rightly advised, “If you eat a frog first thing in the morning that will probably be the worst thing you do all day.”


Success and failure are part of a journey. But, anybody who just stops traveling on that path will surely fail. So, if you think that you're a failure, simply get up and keep going. We all have got something unique in us and we have to find it out. Always try new things and keep on trying because that is the only way to succeed.