Do You Fail Enough? Failing 49 Percent Of The Time Will Lead To Success

“If you do it right 51 percent of the time you will end up a hero.” – Alfred P. Sloan  long-time President, chairman and CEO of General Motors Corporation, Born May 23, 1875.

alfred p sloan

The idea behind this article is to show you how low the bar is really set for success, and many people say that with the popularity and ease of social media the bar is getting even lower.

It is pretty easy for people to be a success because it is agreed by many that success comes from persistence. If some of the world’s biggest names had not persisted when they failed the world would be a different place. Imagine a world without the Beatles, Harry Potter or the author James Patterson.

49 percent failure rate

These people were rejected and failed many times:

James Patterson: Who has sold over 300 million books had all of his short stories rejected, his first novel was turned down by 31 publishing houses but when it was eventually published it went on to win an award for the best new novel of that year. He is now a multimillionaire author who publishes dozens of new books each year.

JK Rowling: Was turned down by 8 publishing houses when she sent them the manuscript for Harry Potter, eventually one accepted it and published the book. Now look at her and the popularity of the Harry Potter franchise. She too is a multimillionaire and publishes other popular stories under a different pen name.

The Beatles: Were turned down by Decca Records executive Dick Rowe believing ‘guitar groups are on the way out’ saying that they were an ‘old sound’ and basically would not amount to anything… Who has not heard of the Beatles or a Beatles song?

I am sure that there is a remote tribe somewhere in the Amazon who might not know anything about the Beatles but for the rest of the Western world you would have had to been living under a rock to have not heard of them!

amazon tribe

The rest is history as they say but had they all given up early history would have a very different story.

What the above shows us is that they didn’t give up, they pushed on regardless where others would have quit and it paid off… big time.

When others told them that they or their product was no good they didn’t stop, they had to carry on regardless. Whether they were able to carry on because of discipline, or by desire, or by willpower, or by mental illness, or by being driven, or by being compelled – it doesn’t matter what it was, what matters is that they carried on regardless and became a success.

Taking James Patterson’s story of being rejected by 31 publishing houses; at what number would you have thrown the towel in and accepted that the literary world had spoken and declared that you were not good enough to be a writer?

Rejected 31 times and yet James Patterson is the most prolific writer today who is banking serious money from his failings as a writer. If he intended to send his book to 100 different publishing house – with 31 rejections he still had a further 18 rejections to go before success appeared, but it didn’t, it actually came sooner.

That figure of 31 which seems high to most people is actually well under the 49% fail rate.

Just keep doing what you are doing over and over again, and you cannot help but succeed.


Richard Branson is a successful entrepreneur and I bet you can name several of the successful businesses that he started, but can you name any of those business ideas or decisions he made which failed? No of course you can’t because the nature of failing means that they are not usually seen or heard of.

richard branson

Success on the other hand means that by nature you or your business becomes popular and known. Richard Branson has himself failed many times and yet here he is today, a very wealthy and successful businessman and a huge inspiration.

Success Is A Law Of Nature

By nature we humans can only get better at doing something the more we do it, so when you fail 49% of the time eventually that fail rate will drop significantly… until you try something completely new and different, then you will be back at square one.

Martial Artists, sports people, and musicians will spend years practicing the same moves day in day out until they master it and become a success. Their daily practice routines can make weak and feeble minded people shudder in fear. They go ‘that extra mile,’ they go ‘over the razors edge,’ they fail ‘49% of the time’ until success appears.

To determine if you’re doing anything right at least 51% of the time, you should do it at least 100 times. You can happily fail 49 times and it will not affect you in a big way.

After you have done something 100 times evaluate how well you did. Chances are you will find that you did even better than 51%. As mentioned earlier, if you do something again and again, you cannot help but get better at it. It is basic human nature, our minds and bodies have evolved to do this. It’s pure biological adaptability.

The first article that you write will be awful when compared to your 100th article which was written 100 days after the first… there is no way that you can actually get worse. (Unless old age or a terrible natural condition has struck you down)

So let’s assume that you have a website and that it requires content: write 100 articles and share them on social media. Spread them as far and wide as you can. Let as many people know about your articles as possible, chances are some people will love some of your articles and love you. You will become, in the words of Alfred P. Sloan, ‘a hero’ to them.

Working on the idea that it takes 100 tries to have a big win, you have three chances for big wins each year if you do a little work each day. Plus a little extra success from the other 65 days.

Being the hero is the ultimate win and not only do you get three chances per year you can basically fail almost half of the time. Looking at it on paper, it really isn’t that hard but it does take something that most people do not have, or unwilling to cultivate if they do not naturally have it, and that is the ability to turn up at work each day, every day, over and over again when you are not getting results and constantly failing.

It can be very discouraging when things seem to constantly be failing with very little or no results but when you apply a magic number to success as we have here you can be more positive in your approach and accept the failures with a zen buddhist like calmness.

You can fail more than 10 times and still succeed if you keep at it, most people would have given up after 10 attempts but in reality you can fail 49 times and still become a success, you should not give up until you have tried enough times.

So the questions to ask yourself are these:

Are you failing enough?

Are you trying enough?

How many days in a row have you given your time to work towards your goals?

If it’s not at least 100 times before quitting then your chances of becoming successful is slim.