FAILURE: The Secret Success Drug

3 min readDec 19, 2017


I argue…If you’re not failing, you’re not taking enough chances.

Every Idol, Leader, Influencer, started their journey exactly the same way you did…with a heaping handful of enthusiasm, and no fucking idea of how things were going to turn out.

The difference between Elon Musk, Tom Brady, Steven Spielberg, Jeff Bezos, and the “average Joe” is boiled down to one thing.

How one reacts to failure.

For most, failure is an end point, finality, the start of a crying game. But for those we look up to, these Idols, failure is used as a tool. A tool to motivate, inspire, inflict change, question, even force rebirth…It is just part of the process.

Now let’s look at failure and why I believe it is one of life’s greatest tools.

  1. Failure is a measure of action. To fail, one must attempt, and through action, one must learn. Now the difference between “winners” and “losers” is the application of lessons learned to future actions.
  2. Failure can used as a tremendous motivator…and the beauty of it, we don’t even have to experience it. The mere fear of failure itself can drive us to accomplish things we never thought possible.
  3. “Battle scars are attractive”…this may seem odd to include within a piece on failure and the potential power of using failure as a driver towards success, but let me explain. Today’s business leaders want talent that has been fire-tested, been put through the meat grinder and come out the other side smarter, stronger, and more resilient. The scars of “failure” can be used to your advantage if you just own them!
  4. Speed wins in today’s marketplace. Those that are willing to take risks (which in turn are people more willing to fail) are often the ones that win the biggest prize. This mentality can used within any context, but for the sake of conversation, we will keep it in the framework of business. Innovators chase risk…they don’t avoid it. And with such a mentality, they are able to ideate, engage, and attempt without the burden of “what if”, which equals speed!

It doesn’t matter where you are, or where you’ve been…Change is always a simple decision away. Let 2018 be your year of doing, and failing, and learning, and doing some more.

Written by 31south Co-Founder Liam Shanahan

Liam was a professional athlete turned serial entrepreneur, advisor, consultant and investor. Liam has founded and consulted a vast array of rapid growth organizations over the past decade ranging from fitness-tech to retail, financial-tech to social. Liam is a passionate leader, problem solver, storyteller, always striving to find new and unique ways to drive growth while mitigating unnecessary cost burdens. With his extensive operational business background, Liam is as comfortable in a brainstorming session with a marketing team as he is in the executive boardroom setting expectations on annual strategy.




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