Billionaire James Dyson on Failure

30 replies
British industrialist and billionaire James Dyson has a pretty healthy outlook on failure. I felt this rang true for what many of us might have experienced at times in IM, and wanted to share his words:

You once described the inventor's life as "one of failure." How so?
I made 5,127 prototypes of my vacuum before I got it right. There were 5,126 failures. But I learned from each one. That's how I came up with a solution. So I don't mind failure. I've always thought that schoolchildren should be marked by the number of failures they've had. The child who tries strange things and experiences lots of failures to get there is probably more creative.

Not all failures lead to solutions, though. How do you fail constructively?
We're taught to do things the right way. But if you want to discover something that other people haven't, you need to do things the wrong way. Initiate a failure by doing something that's very silly, unthinkable, naughty, dangerous. Watching why that fails can take you on a completely different path. It's exciting, actually. To me, solving problems is a bit like a drug. You're on it, and you can't get off. I spent seven years on our washing machine [which has two drums, instead of one].
#billionaire #dyson #failure #james
  • Profile picture of the author threezerozero
    this should really go in the motivation portion of this forum, but nevertheless, good read. thanks for the post.
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    • Profile picture of the author WiseWarrior1
      Originally Posted by threezerozero View Post

      this should really go in the motivation portion of this forum, but nevertheless, good read. thanks for the post.
      Sorry, did not realize there was such a section....

      Moderator: please move if you are able!
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  • Profile picture of the author rob9482
    It just goes to show you it is never wrong to take action but sometimes wrong not to!
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  • Profile picture of the author marketingdynasty
    Failure should not be an option. We should never give up and always learn from our mistakes.
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  • Profile picture of the author jamesrich1
    Failure does not exist. There are only quitters and winners. Quitters choose to fail by giving up. Winners never give up and always win.
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  • Profile picture of the author KeithSneed
    Every failure teaches us how to do things better the next time. I would rather have a hundred failures and finally get it right, than to try to perfect something before I ever go through with it. You'll just sit there for years... You'll learn by doing something, but often times you won't do something by learning about it. Do first, get it right later.
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    • Profile picture of the author cashp0wer
      Interesting post even if it is in the wrong section. I got a lot out of reading this. A lot of really good points here.
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  • Profile picture of the author elexmedia
    Yes, if you do not make failure, you can't create a new thing.

    "How you will not make a mistake when you create something that have never existed before?"

    The more you make mistakes, the more you learn. The more you learn, the more you grow.

    "Success is a bad teacher. Failure is a great teacher."- Robert Kiyosaki
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    • Profile picture of the author curly sue
      This is inspiring; guy failed over 5000+ times before he made it to a billion. Makes me feel like I have not failed yet.
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  • Profile picture of the author philrich21
    I hope that I don't have to fail as many times as James but great post

    This emphasizes the importance of firstly taking action but also measuring so that you can know what's working and what's not. Improve on what is working and brings results and eliminate the other activities
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    • Profile picture of the author Challendge
      Originally Posted by philrich21 View Post

      I hope that I don't have to fail as many times as James but great post

      This emphasizes the importance of firstly taking action but also measuring so that you can know what's working and what's not. Improve on what is working and brings results and eliminate the other activities
      Are you sure that you don't want to fail as many times? He's a Billionaire! Maybe failing one less time would have made him a millionaire.

      I know that it was intended as somewhat of a joke and I laughed. However, there was a bit of seriousness to it and that's the main issue...everyone wants success in a quicker time than the rest.

      For the even close to the same end result, I would gladly fail 5127 times!
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  • Profile picture of the author Kurt
    Dyson sucks.
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  • Profile picture of the author bibs
    Failed over 5,000 times?! You gotta be kidding me. Most people will give up trying after 5-10 times..or maybe less.
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  • Profile picture of the author jbsmith
    He certainly hits the nail on the head...look at any high achiever (business or otherwise) and they have two major factors responsible for driving them to their achievement...

    1. Passion - they have an incredible (almost obsessive) passion for what they want to achieve (Bill Gates - A PC in every home, Steve Jobs to marry technology with art, etc...)

    2. Altered risk perception. Every high achiever I have met (business, artist, musician, etc...) have altered their view of risk such that NOT pushing ahead is higher risk/higher pain than pushing ahead and experiencing setbacks. This is no doubt partly driven by their passion which elevates the pleasure of working toward your goal higher than the pain associated with any setback, but there is something else.

    High achievers (inventors or otherwise) tend to be restless souls that have such fear and pain built up around NOT pushing forward that the experiment-fail-modify-experiment process is massively comfortable for them...it is, in fact, the ONLY process thye are comfortable with. Over time, this leads to higher levels of success from the old adage that you learn more from 1 failure than all of your successes combined.

    This is also the reason that most people trying to start a business or become wealthy in their own ventures will fail - they do not yet (and may never) have either the passion or the altered sense of risk required to be a high achiever.

    Jeff
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  • Profile picture of the author Brandon Sean
    For a moment there I thought you were talking about the creator of OptimizePress
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  • Thomas Edison wasn't very intelligent but he tried thousands of things even when he was wrong but at the end he was successful. Tesla for example was much smarter then Edison and when he came to work for Edison he gave him an imposible task and Tesla did it, he was very smart. The point is that failure is part of success most of us are not as smart as Tesla we have to keep trying like Edison!
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    soon people... Relax...
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  • Profile picture of the author Jacqueline Smith
    The key is to actually learn from your mistakes. Many people just move on when something has failed. Take the time to examine the failure and then move on.
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  • Profile picture of the author werpetalpushers
    Very inspiring! Thanks for the post!!
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  • Profile picture of the author williamk
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    Excellent thread. What he says is true. I have got the same advice from a inventors autobiography too.
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  • Profile picture of the author GeraldNitram
    I have to agree to the people who said that this thread is awesome. I've read some blogs about failure, and they've inspired me to move forward instead of just sitting in one corner being sad about just one failure. Some businesses fail because they're afraid to fail. It's not something that people are supposed to be scared of; I'd rather think of it as something that could help us learn how to make things a lot better.
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  • Profile picture of the author leachyau
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    • Profile picture of the author atlantarobin
      I used to keep a list of all the many, many failures of Abraham Lincoln posted above my desk. That man failed in every business and every election and just about in everything else he ever attempted... until he won the presidential election.

      Never give up. Keep setting goals. Someday you're bound to achieve at least a few of them.
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  • Profile picture of the author seriousmny
    Dyson changed the way most the higher priced vacuums are built. Dyson's selling point is the no loss of suction and being bagless. Now most newer vacuums have no bag to empty and have great sustained suction power. The Dyson vacuum improved the vacuuming industry for the consumer. Thank you Mr. Dyson for improving the cleaning power of vacuums across the world. (From a mom of course).
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  • Profile picture of the author gcbmark20
    This kind of psychology takes us humans to a whole new level.

    Wonderful stuff, really powerful and just shows that no matter who you are, what background you have, how poor you were frowing up, it simply is all irrelevant once you have that unbreakable psychology at your disposal.

    thank you so much for sharing that information WISE WARRIOR it has made my day!!!
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  • Profile picture of the author TheClarkey
    I definitely agree with the message he's portraying. but how the hell can you make 5,127 different prototypes?

    Still, great message none the less. The path to success is filled with failure, just use them as stepping stones and use the information/data from each failures constructively!
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  • Profile picture of the author hbteos234
    "I've always thought that schoolchildren should be marked by the number of failures they've had"

    Wow! What an amazing way to look at it. The education system today, unfortunately, is all about suppressing creativity and glorifying conformity.

    Imagine what humans would be capable of if the they were taught from childhood to be creative
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  • Profile picture of the author CyborgX
    Have not failed that much yet. If I failed over 5000 times, I would not live to see this day.
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  • Profile picture of the author mosthost
    Dyson may be a genius but Oreck makes my favorite vacuums.
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