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Failure is the best thing for you

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One of my most popular blogs, which surprised me, was when I wrote about how redundancy was the best thing that ever happened to me.

It’s true. I learned more from failure than I ever learned from success. I learn more from hardship than I ever learn from complacency.

It’s not true for everyone. It’s not true if you’ve always been in a hard place between a rock and the devil and the deep blue sea. But, for those who are displaced and challenged, it can be energising and reinvigorating.

It plays back to a quote that has been used many times throughout history:

Show me a person who never made a mistake, and I’ll show you a failure

We learn from our mistakes.

That’s why failure is a good thing.

In banking, we try to avoid failure. We don’t want risk. We don’t want to make a mistake. But, mistakes will be made.

That’s why we have the sandbox. We can fail in the sandbox. We can test, trial and ideate. We can see if things will work or not, but the reality is that real life is never the same as test life. That’s why we learn so much so fast, when trials go mainstream.

I was struck by this when an infographic hit me about Elon Musk’s life. Like many, I’m a fan of Elon Musk. Elon Musk is our real-world Tony Stark (Iron Man, for those who aren’t in the know). An inventor, entrepreneur, playboy, goof. He makes mistakes often – just check his twitter account – but he gets through it. He is driven by his vision. I don’t like everything he says, and I’m not always a fan of his activities and actions, but I’m a fan. I’m not a fan because of SpaceX or Tesla, although these are great achievements, but I’m a fan because of his tenacity and persistence. He’s made mistakes – he gets over them. He fails – it doesn’t stop him. He almost goes bankrupt – he doesn’t care. He loses his love life – he succeeds.

He succeeds.

If you don’t know his life story, you should check it out as, for me, he is the archetypal example of a person with no boundaries. He has failed many times, but failure makes him stronger. He has been in hard times many times, but hard times makes him stronger. He is a walking disaster, but an entrepreneurial emperor.

Similarly Jack Ma, the multi-billionaire founder of Alibaba and Alipay, is the same. I always remember his speech about how he was unemployable. He applied for a job at Kentucky Fried Chicken. There were 24 interviewees and 23 jobs. He was the one that didn't get the job. Lucky for Jack. Failure made him stronger, more focused, more driven, more Jack.

Who are you? What do you do? How do you deal with failure? When hard times hit, do you just give up?


When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

These times, this year, this pandemic, this crisis is the greatest opportunity you’ve ever faced. Sit down, reflect and face it. What could you be? How can you change? Where is your destiny?

Take it. Seize it. Make it happen. Make it so. 2021.


Chris Skinner Author Avatar

Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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