I Have Failed And Failed And Failed And Failed…

by Patrick Liew on April 15, 2013

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

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

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

As mere detours on the journey of life, they serve to correct and help me achieve better results.

Failures inculcated many positive values in me. These values stayed with me long after I have forgotten many lessons that I have learned in a classroom. They helped me live wisely.

Failure is not final unless I fail to learn from it and press onto a higher level of achievement.

Therefore, I want to learn how to fail successfully so as to achieve enduring successes in my life.

I want to successfully fail my way to success.

Part 1 – I Failed.

In 1990, Richard Tan; my best friend, business partner and a living inspiration, and I started a business together.

Unfortunately, we were conned into selling a new product in an untested market and 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 pits 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 about 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 achievements.

Of course, I can grumble, grouse and gripe about them. It can also 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 I. When we could not look outwards for a solution, we looked upwards and inwards.

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 big dreams.

All my life, 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.

We believed that education was one of the greatest equalisers in life. It was a fast track to help people expand their potential, enhance their performance, and 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 facilitate world-class gurus to train ordinary persons on the street.

“What’s more, we will make the technology transfer 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 discouragements, even from those who were close to us. We also went through many deep-seated fears and painful failures.

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 realised at that point that 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 for our life-changing enterprise and gaining traction. 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 to 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 our projected revenue for the seminar. In fact, it was even more than the profit that we earned for the whole year then.

To make matters worst, 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 minds went on an overdrive.

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

When we took the proverbial bull by its horns and respond to it positively, it changed us and improve the situation.  We can 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 the 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!”

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 dare 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 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 the fear of failure. It is unfortunate that when they run away from the fear of failure, they also run away from the fruit of success.

Failure is 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 a 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 else and justify for my failure to conduct my dealing 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 were 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 right the final outcomes 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 him.

To cut a long story short, the National Achievers Congress became the first and still the only series of personal development seminars to be held at the Indoor Stadium. We had invited not just one but 8 other world-class speakers to inspire and influence thousands of hungry minds.

We took the company to heights that no other company has been able to achieve. Not only were we able to consistently fill the Indoor Stadium and the other convention halls that were subsequently developed, we went on to 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 seminars changed my life,” “I became rich and wealthy,” “You guys saved our marriage and family,” and the frequently heard, “Our business was able to take off!”

We are proud of the fact that we became one of the pioneers in lifeskills training for adults. Many of our participants became renowned authors, trainers and coaches and became our partners in the exciting talent development industry.

These achievements and many other concrete examples of how we were shaping lives motivated us to increase the stakes 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.

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

The growth of our company could only be described as phenomenal. 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 new world, tragedy struck.

Part 3 – I Failed Again.

Richard was diagnosed with cancer.

When I heard about the sad news, I confess that I harboured thoughts of closing the company. I could not bear to see my friend suffer in the process of managing it and worst, to see the fruit of his 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 is not 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 going far in our life.

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

Richard’s sickness could not have happened at a worst 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 keep up with a heavy traveling schedule to keep the company going. With two young children in tow, the company’s future was doomed.

To make matters worst, 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 in time, only 250 tickets were sold and we had only about 8 weeks left 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 doors after doors and he worked from early morning to the dead of the night to increase the number of clients.

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 fail gloriously and successfully.

In 1995, he stood on the stage – without hair – at the National Achievers Congress in Hong Kong. He inspired the 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 jubilation all over the company. Little did we know 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, she can offer the best tests for commitment, attitude, character and behaviour and through it all, bring out the best from 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 any fall, we can rise up as wiser and stronger persons.

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 clients in more than 60 countries. No other company 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 have become stepping stones to success and not millstones around my neck. It has softened me, strengthened me, and enlightened me.

It has softened me in the sense that it has 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 have 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 have learned how to persist and persevere so as to achieve desired results. I became more resilient in facing other challenges in life.

Failures have 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 turn failures and downsides into an advantage of a higher order.  I want to serve them so that they will not be left behind on the highways and byways of life but will instead become leaders for the good of society.

Please don’t let any failure go to waste.

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


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

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

Visit my Inspiration blog at http://liewinspiration.wordpress.com/

For my opinions on current affairs, please visit my Transformation blog at http://hsrpatrickliew.wordpress.com/

Please visit my website, www.patrickliew.net

Please read my reflections and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!


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