how failures create your biggest successes (how I failed)

a public tribute to seth, and the story of how I failed, to succeed:

I though of making my private notes public not a long time ago. I just never made a decision to take action on it, until this happened:

on December 10th I read that Seth godin ( ) is requesting applicants for a 7 month-long project. the 2 people accepted would be personally mentored by Seth Godin, and payed a large sum.

without hesitation or any failure-related thoughts, I applied. one field in the application said: “online presence — where do you live online, where do we find out more about you.” I could only think of twitter. except, I knew that Seth hated twitter. he doesn’t tweet. and he generally doesn’t like the dynamics of it. blogs are more his thing. so intuitively I write the address to this blog, and submit. except, at that time, it was an empty blog. there was no content in it. nothing at all.

and suddenly I realize: oh shit! to have the slightest chance to be accepted, I have to actually publish something considerable before the 14th. and that’s when it hit me. this is the perfect opportunity to make my private notes public! (2 in 1) and I announce it instantly with this note.

of course, this is a story about how I failed, to succeed. so I fail. Seth doesn’t want me (for now at least :-). but what’s amazing is that he ended his request for applicants this way: “I hope each one of you gets something out of this, even if we don’t get a chance to work together.” thank you Seth – because magically, that’s exactly what happens.

if I didn’t reply to seth’s request I wouldn’t have made my notes private at the right timing. and it wouldn’t have led to notes.  I would have never found this most valuable community, and these lovely people willing to write comments longer than the notes themselves. people that actually contribute, dig deeper, and provide sharp insights into what it means to be human. a community with the intention of building the collective knowledge; as opposed to arguing from an egotistical perspective. a community that genuinely believes in collectively making a statement against privacy-generated fears. a community for openness, for sharing, and for mutual collaboration.

notes is a huge success. in 3 days (at the time of writing this): more than 27,000 note views, and more than 100 full-content comments. it’s beautiful to see this success for openness and sharing. I’m overwhelmed.

you, reading this now, thank you so much.

you made this happen. you are creating an open world. this is your success. and it could only have come after failure.

you can fail too.

yours, will

twitter: @williamchoukeir

p.s. closely related: how do we protect ourselves from failure with this habit?


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13 Responses to how failures create your biggest successes (how I failed)

  1. Ameena says:

    so true!

  2. Anonymous says:

    thank you ameena. this is your success too 🙂

  3. Hanane Kai says:

    i agree.. so’s not very obvious to see the lesson behind each failure, but for sure there is so much to learn after each time we fail. actually we never learn as much as when we are pain, when we fail… when all our expectations/dreams are clashing with reality. and there’s nothing we can do. here is where we can either fall into self destruction. or we can accept reality, trust that everything happens for a reason, and take out the lesson from the failure.and if we choose to learn the lesson, build upon it and continue > this is where our failures create our successes :)i still have to learn how not fall into self destruction, and learn instead. but reading this now for sure made me one step closer… i have more faith that everything happens for a reason :)thank you william for sharing.

  4. Anonymous says:

    so true hanane. so true. that’s exactly what we all face. thank you for opening up.

  5. Anonymous says:

    does everything REALLY happen for a reason? or is this some justification we just tell ourselves to make "bad things" seem to have a better end? or to help us exist through suffering times..or even for anything to make sense to us or have a point, even if it’s a good thing. We are so reliant on defining things in our lives just to feel like we have some sort of "order" going on. I’ve always been one to say "well this and this happened for a get me to this point.." who knows?? lol i know this was unrelated to the post pretty much, but..just got me thinking from hanane’s comment.

  6. Anonymous says:

    hey nat :-)thanks for your thoughts. let me put it this way: i believe that things that happen are caused by something. i don’t believe that something can happen independently of EVERYTHING else. many things could also make one thing happen. some of these causes could be painful, and some could be enjoyable. and this result that happened, will eventually lead to other things. some painful, and some enjoyable. and i would go back to what hanane said: it’s up to us whether we want to concentrate on the painful things, or the enjoyable things. and if there aren’t any enjoyable results, then it’s also up to us to concentrate on other enjoyable things, even if they’re unrelated to the cause of pain.sometimes we don’t choose what happens to us, but we can choose what we want to give our attention to. (not easy, i know)and i think you and i are the perfect example. we’re living in the same country, and we’re both surrounded by painful stuff, and enjoyable stuff. you see the problems in this society and ask for change, i see the beautiful things and ask for more of’s all a matter of what we choose to give our thoughts, you

  7. Anonymous says:

    Just wanted to say that i’m reading Seth Godin now, and it feels good..thanks for sharing 🙂 and i;m experimenting with Posterous, which is cool :)as for mistakes, i think they’re great. i don’t know if everything happens for a reason- it’s kinda hard to keep track! what i know is this: when we do mistakes, we realize that we can do even better. it’s an amazing thing, having this realization, somehow more important than the specific failure- it’s a kind of universal internal truth we get to realize about us: that sure, we can do better..A person i adore told me about an architect who calls each of his past projects mistakes: ‘this was my first mistake, my fourth mistake etc..’ it’s amazing because it relieves from the burden of the past and any regrets and is just about the learning and how to take it further. it somehow disassociates mistakes from all negativity and gravity and makes it easy to let go and look to the future- after all mistakes and failure are very simply naturally human, and they’re what keep us goingguess we should love our mistakes! learn from them. let go and move on in the best way we know how. what’s really stopping us? 🙂

  8. seth godin says:

    Great stuff. Brave and useful and helpful. Thanks for doing it.

  9. Anonymous says:

    seth, thank you for being responsive, reading, and commenting.lina, congratulations on your new blog, and on publishing it under cc :-). what’s really stopping us? fear of failure.

  10. sabine choucair says:

    well guess what… i think mistakes are beautiful and they remind us of our beautiful human nature. they add some spice to our journey in life and make it more exciting. the feeling of doing the same mistake over and over again is even more amazing. and accepting how stupid we can be is hilarious and funny… don’t think much … it doesn’t matter if things are happening for a reason or not, the main point is that they’re happening 🙂 we are ALIVE

  11. Anonymous says:

    thank you sabine 🙂 that’s a perfect clown mind ;-D definitely. and just to add that for me, failure isn’t really a mistake. i don’t really believe that anything is a mistake. the whole point behind this note isn’t to try to understand why and how things happen. not at all. it’s just to inspire people to LIVE and do what they love without being paralyzed by fear of failure. so yes we are ALIVE! let’s not sabotage it. hibbik.

  12. Anonymous says:

    "you see the problems in this society and ask for change, i see the beautiful things and ask for more of them." man that really got me thinking!! it’s so true and has always been my problem. I quit too soon to fully appreciate the beauty of something, something I need to work on….not to say I don’t see the beautiful things, because believe me if I didn’t feel them I would have been OUT the first month. Beautiful things override the not so beautiful things I experience here on a daily basis, I mean I definitely felt it when I first arrived here, it was an unexplainable strong feeling, felt pure joy from it….but I guess the negative things probe me and I have stronger feelings about them which makes me blog about them. : Maybe one day I will surprise you LOL.

  13. Anonymous says:

    <html><body bgcolor="#FFFFFF"><div>I can't wait to be surprised :-)</div><div><br></div><div></div><blockquote type="cite"><div> <div style="width: 600px; font-size: 12px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; line-height: 18px;" class="PosterousEmail"></div></div></body></html>

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