I Have Failed And Failed And Failed And Failed…

by Patrick Liew on August 4, 2017

Failures are part and parcel of life. They are signposts on the journey to success.

Without confronting failures, we would never have truly lived and succeeded in anything.

Failures are good servants but bad masters. They act as feedback to help us learn, improve and achieve better results.

Without preventing, resolving and learning from failures on a proactive basis, we cannot have truly lived and succeeded in anything substantial and on an ongoing basis.

Failures can act as experiences and feedback to help us learn, improve and achieve better results.

They help us develop major values that can strengthen our character, commitment, competence, and compassion.

These values include mental toughness, discipline, focus, perseverance, grit, resilience, empathy, and teamwork.

As mere detours on the journey of life, they serve to correct us and help us live wisely and better lives.

Many of the lessons from failures can stay with us even long after we have forgotten the academic content taught to us in school.

They can become a vital and integral part of our lives even long after we’ve gotten over the emotions and exhilaration of celebrating successes and victories.

It’s wise to remember that failure is not final unless we fail to learn from it and leverage it to attain a higher level of achievement.

We can learn how to fail successfully so as to achieve sustainable successes.

In short, we can successfully fail our way to success.

Part 1 – I Failed.

In 1990, Richard Tan and I started a business together.

Richard is not just a partner, he is also a good friend and a living inspiration.

Unfortunately, we were conned into selling a new product in an untested market. We were kept in the dark about its side effects.

Within a short period of time, we had many unhappy customers at our doorsteps. The company was inundated with a growing number of complaints, threats, and even potential legal issues.

Every single cent we had was poured into trying to dig the company out of the ever-deepening pit of hell. It was almost impossible for us to turn the corner.

Meanwhile, we could not start a new business nor look for a job. We were painted into a corner and there seemed to be no way out of it.

When I reflected on this and many other failures in my life, I realized every one of them carried seeds of meaning, purpose and significance.

Our Creator placed it there to mould and shape me so that I could be prepared for a higher calling and greater achievement.

Of course, I can grumble, grouse and gripe about them, which will only make me view life negatively.

On the other hand, I can choose to see failures not as problems but as opportunities for success.

That was what happened to Richard and me. When we could not look outward for a solution, we looked upward and inward.

Thankfully, by a stroke of divine inspiration, we decided to totally transform our business model.

Instead of feeling depressed and wallowing in sorrow, Richard and I started to dream again.

In fact, we started to dream big dreams.

All my life, I am passionate about dreams. I choose to have the courage to dream dreams.

My fear is that I may join the throngs that have lost their dreams and desire for dreaming.

Perhaps because our desperation quotient (DQ) was at its peak, we dared to dream what many would call an impossible dream.

We wanted to change the world.

More specifically, we wanted to change the world through education.

Education is one of the greatest equalisers in life. It is a fast track to help people expand their potentials and develop their personalities.

It can enhance their performances and help them achieve their pursuits.

At that point, we made a commitment, “As we do our part to contribute to the education industry, we will turn our awesome dream into a reality.”

We had a big dream but a simple plan.

In short, we told ourselves, “We will persuade world-class gurus and engage them to train ordinary people on the street.

“What’s more, we will make the lessons available, accessible and affordable.

“By doing that, we will improve standards of performance and quality of life. We will strengthen communities and make the world a better home.”

The rest as I would like to tell you was history but history was not that easily crafted. Richard and I faced many seemingly insurmountable challenges.

Along the way, we had more than our fair share of discouragement, even from those who were close to us.

At that point, training was provided on a business-to-business (B2B) basis, and hardly on a business-to-consumers (B2C) basis. The fees paid were mainly by the government, employers, or parents.

Many told us that nobody would pay for themselves to attend a seminar. They will not apply for leave to improve to attend a training programme.

As a result, we went through many deep-seated fear and painful failures to change mindsets and pioneer a new industry.

I realized while I may not be able to stop many failures from happening, I can prevent it from affecting me negatively. If I cannot change the circumstances, I can change myself.

There is nothing wrong with failure. It’s how I respond to it that makes it good or bad.

I may not be able to change the challenges. However, I can change my responses to them by finding meaning in these experiences and values from them.

I may not be able to change the situation but I can look for the purpose in the situation and rise above it. I can take massive actions to live a better life.

Instead of giving up as a victim, I can rise up to become a victor in the journey of life.

I did not realise that at that point, my beliefs would be subjected to severe tests and reinforcements.

Part 2 – I Failed Again.

In our innocent minds, we thought that with our noble dream, we should have no problem getting support and gaining traction for our life-changing enterprise. It looked easy until we hit the first roadblock.

Our first long-distance call was to Mr. Tom Hopkins, an internationally renowned trainer. We had rehearsed a well-crafted script to win him over to our altruistic mission.

It did not take long to convince him to fly all the way to Asia to be our first keynote speaker. In fact, he sounded very passionate about helping us.

Our goal was almost accomplished until he quoted us his professional fees. When we heard it, we felt like a meg truck had smashed into our hearts.

Our dream almost died on the spot.

He was asking for far more money than the projected revenue for the seminar. In fact, it was even more than the profit that we could earn in a year.

To make matters worse, his fees did not cover his traveling, accommodation and out-of-pocket expenses. It was almost impossible to pay him and keep the company afloat.

However, our mind went on an overdrive.

Failures forced us to think and decide on the desired outcomes. It spurred us to learn how to overcome whatever challenges to achieve success.

When we took the proverbial bull by its horns and responded to it positively, it changed us and improved the situation. We could leverage on failures to become wiser and stronger persons.

We decided that we would never run away from a failure.

For Richard and me, our desire to fulfill our dream was stronger than the fear of failure. Our determination to succeed was greater than paying the price for it.

We spent many days and nights exploring all possibilities but every one of them could not work. That was true until Richard came to me with an almost-impossible idea.

He told me excitedly one day, “Why don’t we book the Indoor Stadium for the Congress?

“If we can fill up the stadium, we can afford to pay Mr. Hopkins. At the same time, we can make it affordable for every working person to attend our life-changing programme.”

My immediate response was, “Are you crazy? Nobody has ever used the Stadium for training purposes.

“Besides, it’s too expensive. There are too many risks and it may end up killing our business. We may even become bankrupt and never recover from it!”

You can imagine I was putting on the best persuasion cap. I must have exhausted all reasons to stop him from committing commercial suicide.

Richard just stopped me midstream and asked me a simple question, “Why not?

“Why can’t we have the courage to dream and turn the dream into a reality?”

That question stunned me for a moment and caused me to reflect over our mission.

I was reminded that Success Resources, the company that Richard and I founded was built on a vision to touch lives, bless families, enhance communities, and improve society.

The questions that haunted my mind was, “Why am I not prepared to stake my all to turn the vision into a reality? How can I not get out of my comfort zone to transform lives?”

Truth be told, it is not failure that has stopped many people on their journey to success, it is fear of failure. It is unfortunate that when they run away from fear of failure, they also run away from the fruits of success.

Failure is only a temporary setback. It will only become terminal when they give up trying and believing that they can succeed.

Tragically, many people are defeated before they leave their houses and experienced a failure. They have already failed in their minds and that is one of the worst failures.

Life has taught us that the person who usually wins is the person who never give up trying.

Richard and I decided to burn our bridges and invested literally everything we owned to book the Stadium and organise the Congress. Many people thought we had gone off our rockers, including the manager running the Stadium who was visibly shocked by our endeavour.

We discovered when you have an electrifying dream, many people will rally behind to support it. Within a short while, we sold about 1500 tickets.

Excited with the initial results, we called Mr Hopkins to share with him the good news. That was when we had another shock of our life.

He told us, “I will not and cannot speak at your Congress. The reason is, we did not have a contract. I may be engaged during that period.”

Having brought up to believe that ‘My word is my bond’, I could not believe my ears. We had gone through the details and gotten a verbal agreement from him, how could he walk out on us?

Okay, that was an excuse. I had to blame someone and justify my failure in conducting my business properly.

That was the way of losers.

Fortunately, I recovered fairly quickly and returned back to the straight and narrow way.

You may have realized that failure does not happen accidentally. It is usually the result of a bad decision and negative behaviour.

More often than not, a failure is a culmination of a series of small mistakes.

Nothing wrong with that, after all, major discoveries got their breakthroughs after a series of errors. Destinations are often reached through a series of missteps.

Problems start when these errors are ignored and not responded to in a positive way.

When we do not learn from a failure, we have failed a second time and in one of the worst ways.

Take full responsibility for the failure. In other words, develop and exercise your ability to respond to it.

Some of the saddest words that I have ever heard or read are, “I could have done something about it”. These regrets could not unwind the clock and put to right the final outcome of a failure.

Instead of walking away, Richard and I decided to confront the odds. We took the next possible flight to negotiate for the “life buoy” to save our business – a contract with Mr. Hopkins.

To cut a long story short, we invited not just one but eight other world-class speakers to inspire and influence thousands of hungry minds.

The National Achievers Congress became the first and still, the only series of personal development seminars to be held at the Indoor Stadium.

We took the company to heights that no other company has been able to reach. Not only were we able to consistently fill the Indoor Stadium and the other convention halls that were subsequently made available, we went on to achieve similar feats in many other countries.

More importantly, we have lost count on the thousands of participants who melted our hearts with words such as, “Thank you. Your seminar changed my life”, “I became rich and wealthy”, “You guys saved our marriage and family”, and the frequently heard, “Our business and profits took off after the seminar!”

We are proud of the fact that we became one of the pioneers in lifelong and life skills training for adults. Many of our participants became renowned authors, trainers, coaches and eventually, our partners and ‘competitors’ in the exciting talent-development industry.

These achievements and many other concrete examples of how we were shaping lives motivated us to increase the stake and expand our dream. We took on even more and bigger challenges.

The more we focused on our dreams, the less formidable the challenges became.

The growth of our company could only be described as phenomenal.

I wished I could tell you that there was a fairy tale ending to the story but life had many other shocks and surprises in store for us.

Spurred on by the success, we continued to reinvest all our profits to press on to ‘change the world’.

Just when we were about to see a glimpse of the ‘promised land’ that we have created initially in our mind, tragedy struck.

Part 3 – I Failed Again.

Richard was diagnosed with cancer.

When I heard about the sad news, I confess that I had harboured thoughts of closing down the company. I could not bear to see my friend suffer in the process of managing it and worst, to see the fruits of our labour go down the drain.

No, I did not want him to fail.

Later, I realized the only certain way not to fail is to live for nothing and do nothing with our life. Life will then not be worth the living.

If we live without facing the potential of failures, we have failed to live. In fact, we should expect to fail every now and then, otherwise, chances are, we are not stretching ourselves to go farther and faster in our lives.

The only way to be a winner in life is to go and grow through every failure.

When I know I’m on the right track and should I fail, I know it’s time to press on even more.

When I fail, I’ll just call it version 1.0. An improved version is on the way.

Richard’s sickness could not have happened at a worse time. We had expanded into many countries by then and we had launched a range of new products and services.

Richard had to undergo chemotherapy treatments while at the same time, keep up with a heavy traveling schedule to keep the company going. With his two young children in tow, it was an uphill battle.

The company’s future was doomed.

To make matters worse, we were organizing the National Achievers Congress at the Hong Kong Coliseum and it had a total seating capacity of 12,500 people. At that point, only 250 tickets were sold and we were left with only 8 weeks to make it a success.

Richard pleaded with his doctor to let him continue the chemotherapy treatments in Hong Kong. In-between treatments, he led the sales force to knock on door-to-door and worked from early morning to the dead of the nights to increase the number of customers.

I would never forget what he once told me. He said, “When I set out to accomplish a goal, it means the world to me.

“Goal-setting is an integral part of my self-esteem. I put in my honour as a human to make it work.

“I’m willing to die to achieve my goal. If I set a goal and do not believe in achieving my goal, life is not worth living.”

These shocking statements originally did not sit well with me.

Over the years, I have seen Richard breaking one record feat after another and leading our company from strength to strength. I realized there was a tremendous amount of wisdom and truth in his work ethos for winners in life.

I learned that when winners fail, they failed gloriously and successfully.

In 1995, he stood on the stage – without hair – at the National Achievers Congress in Hong Kong. He inspired participants with his indomitable spirit and fierce determination to make dreams come true.

He told the audience, “Don’t quit until you win. You’re not out of the race until you quit.

“It can be a long corner but it’s just around the corner.”

After that amazing success, there were celebrations and jubilations all over the company. Little did we know that it was but only, the calm before the storm.

In fact, what hit us subsequently was more like a tsunami.

Part 4 – I Failed Again.

Prior to the heat of the Asian Crisis, we made a very bad investment and lost everything. We were at the brink of bankruptcy and needed millions of dollars to bail ourselves out.

That’s when we discovered that Professor Failure is a much better trainer than Professor Success. In fact, he can offer the best tests for commitment, attitude, character and behaviour and through it all, bring out the best in us.

If we learn from Mr. Failure and act on his powerful lessons, the deeper we fall, the higher we can bounce back from any setback. After every fall, we can rise up as a wiser and stronger person.

At that point, we needed to rake in more than $4 million within four months or else our world would come crashing down.

We decided to change our business model again. We asked ourselves, “If education can change lives and help achieve exponential growth, can we accelerate the technology transfer and results for our clients?”

The resulting epiphany helped us to redesign our game-changing architecture and innovate a completely new way of running seminars. We were happy to note that our model has been adopted by many of our colleagues in the industry and it has been a blessing to them.

Currently, Success Resources is arguably the largest seminar organizer in the world. Our personal development seminars are probably the longest established and most successful series of such seminars in the market.

We represent some of the biggest names and the most respected experts in the industry.

From T. Harv Eker, President Bill Clinton, Prime Minister Tony Blair, Robert Kiyosaki, Richard Branson, Donald Trump, Michael Porter, to Anthony Robbins, we are now organising seminars for such experts all over the world and changing lives through their words of wisdom.

Through various programmes, we have helped to share cutting-edged knowledge and expertise online and through bricks and mortar, to individuals from more than 60 countries. No other company in our industry has been able to match our record in terms of global reach, influence and results.

Success Resources has been helping people from different cultures and through multiple languages to achieve greater successes in life. We have helped to transform many lives and earn the admiration and respect of many people all over the world.

Looking back, if Success Resources had not failed and clung on to the verge of corporate death, we would not be compelled to reinvent the company. Our dream would not have become a worldwide movement.

Throughout my life, failures had become stepping stones to success and not millstones around my neck.

It had softened me, strengthened me, and enlightened me.

It had softened me in the sense that it had humbled me and made me more of a human.

I can better understand and feel for people who are facing challenges in their lives.

It made me a more empathetic and approachable person.

Failures strengthened me to become a wiser and better person.

To overcome failures, I had to put in more effort to strengthen major life skills.

I had to improve my knowledge, attitude, skills and habits – all of which made me a stronger person.

In the process of resolving downsides of failures, I had learned how to persist and persevere so as to achieve desired results.

I developed grit and became more resilient in facing other challenges in life.

Failures had enlightened me to realise that there are many ‘Patrick Liews’ out there who are facing different kinds of challenges.

I want to inspire them with how I had turned failures and downsides into advantages of a higher order.

I want to serve them so that they will not be left behind on the highways and byways of life. Instead, they will become leaders for the good of society.

In short, without confronting failures, I would never have truly lived and succeeded in anything.

In conclusion, please don’t let any failure go to waste.

There is a proverbial phoenix that can soar to the stars from failures – and that winner can be you.

Success can be the next step after a failure. It may be just around the next corner.

Fight On!


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

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Please read my reflections and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!


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