Failing Your Way to be Wealthy

by Patrick Liew on September 12, 2019

Failing Your Way to be Wealthy

There was an evening scene that I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.

A living room in a resort in Langkawi, Malaysia. Six of us were sitting around a table and deep in a discussion.

There were looks of despair, fear and helplessness – three potent emotions that when mixed together would drive anyone down an emotional spiral.

Prior to that moment, I had given everybody a summary of our business’s strategic and financial positions.

The prognosis was not good. In fact, my conclusion was that we had come to the end of the road.

Some years before that painful evening, we had founded a technology company during the dot-com boom.

At the initial stage, our start-up had big dreams, great promises and you could say, staggering achievements too.

Within a short period, we had thousands of clients paying us a decent fee. They came from more than ten countries.

That achievement was unprecedented and almost record-breaking.

Most dot-com companies were providing freebies while chasing eye balls. They had never quite expanded beyond their home and neighbouring countries.

We were certainly on a roll. It seemed like nothing could stop our technological juggernaut.

Then came the dot-com crash in 2001. By then, we had many copycats.

Meanwhile, there was a wave of disruptive innovations that turned our “radical innovation” into a normal proposition.

We were facing multiple disruptions on many fronts and throughout the value chain.

There was no more road ahead of us.

We were facing untamed jungles and they were looming over us in a hostile way.

That night, there wasn’t even a single star on sight to guide us forward.

After my short message, there was a deep silence. It was like an avalanche that had suddenly buried us up to our necks with snow.

The initial coldness was gradually biting deeper and deeper into our being.

After what seemed like ages, I finally broke the silence.

“We have no other choice. So far, we have invested more than $4 millions into the company.

“We can’t go on pouring money into a deep dark well. Let’s close the company.”

The proverbial guillotine was released.

In this case, our life was not taken away in a split of a moment.

The worst happened.

We felt like our baby was forcibly taken from us and the sharp blade had cut through our hearts.

After that meeting, you could imagine how all of us had walked out of the door and into the darkness of the night.

What was more painful was that we were gradually being swallowed by the darkness in our spirit.

The next few days, I was a tormented soul.

I couldn’t get my brain to face my heart or for that matter, any other part of my being.

Shortly after, my team and I decided to fight back. We believed that we have many more fights left inside us.

We decided not to run away from disruptive forces. Instead, we would take them by the horns.

We would beat our way through hostile jungles until we can build a bigger and better road to freedom.

Long story short, our company went on to recover our losses. We stopped the bleeding and became one of the most profitable dot-com companies.

We eventually became the seventh fastest growing company in the Asia Pacific region according to Deloitte & Touche in 2005.

From this and many other experiences, I realized that failures do not have to be millstones around your neck.

They can be stepping stones to help you achieve greater successes.

Failure is part and parcel of a successful life.

The only way to avoid it is to live for nothing and do nothing.

Life would not be worth the living.

Failure acts as a signpost on the journey to success.
It is a good servant but a bad master.

When we take failure by its horns and respond to it positively, it can change the way we live our life and put us on track to success.

Importance of failures

1. Failures are feedback to correct us and help us learn and improve.

Failures provide feedback to help us learn and improve.

They can invoke a commitment for positive attitude, character and behavior, all of which qualities are essential for achieving success.

As mere detours on the journey of life, failures can correct us so that we can achieve better results.

They compel us to develop new knowledge and skills.

2. Failures help us inculcate positive values and bring out the best in us.

Failures can also help us inculcate many positive values. They include humility, self-regulation, grit, and resilience.

These values can stay with us long after we have forgotten many classroom lessons. They can bring out the best in us.

3. Failures can help us develop vital qualities to achieve success.

Failures are a much better teacher than success. To be a winner in life, you need to go and grow through every failure.

Failures spur us to reflect on desired outcomes and drive us to resolve whatever challenges so as to achieve them.

If we learn from a failure and act on its powerful lessons, we can bounce back from any fall and rise up higher than before.

We can rise up as wiser and stronger persons.

We can be shaped and moulded for a higher calling and greater achievement.

How then should we respond to failure?

1. Prepare for failures and respond proactively.

To be successful, we need to learn how to fail successfully so as to achieve enduring success in our life.

If we live without preparing for potential and possibilities of failures, we cannot live effectively.

Successful people prepare for contingency plans to manage potential changes and scenarios in the future.

In fact, the more we stretch ourselves and go further in life, the higher are the probabilities of going through a failure.

We need to prepare for failures. More importantly, we need to develop skills to handle failures and respond to them proactively.

2. Develop a failure-proof mindset – a mindset to go and grow through every failure.

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

We can grumble, grouse and gripe about it. As a result, it can dim our view about life.

That’s what happened to many people.

Tragically, there are people who are defeated before they experience a failure and even before they leave their house.

They feel more comfortable to choose an easier option than face a challenge in life.

Many are more inclined to stay on or go back to their old ways.

They have already failed or chosen to fail in their mind and that is one of the worst failures.

We can turn the tide by developing a failure-proof mindset – a mindset to go and grow through every failure.

It starts with a choice – a choice to see failure as an opportunity and not as a problem. A choice to take massive action to turn a failure into a feedback to make us a better person.

Remember, failure is not final unless we fail to learn from it and press on to a higher level of achievements.

3. Take full responsibility for failure.

Take full responsibility for any failure.

Responsibility is made up of two words – response and ability.

In other words, let’s develop accountability and exercise our ability to respond to every failure.

We may not be able to change the challenges. However, we can change our response to them.

We can find meaning in these experiences and benefit from them.

We may not be able to change the situation but we can rise above the situation and find purpose in it.

We can take massive action to live a better life.

Instead of feeling like a victim, we can focus on our dream and not ‘over-dwell’ on the failure.

We can press on to become a victor in the journey of life.

4. Overcome fear of failure.

Very often, 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 fear of failure, they also run away from fruit of success.

Failure is only a temporary setback.

It will only become terminal when we give up trying and believing that we can succeed.

5. Nip failure at its bud.

The path of failure and destruction is strewn with small little errors and mistakes that snowball over

If our mind is open, we will be able to sense the signs leading to a failure.

Unfortunately, they are frequently ignored and are not managed in a prompt and positive way.

The conscience eventually becomes numbed to negative thoughts, words and behaviour.

These actions are hardwired into the mind and they become a habitual way of life, leading to a failure.

That’s why we need to learn from every failure. If we do not learn from it, we have failed a second time and in one of the worst ways.

6. Press on to dream and succeed.

Life has taught us that the person who usually succeeds is the person who never runs away from a failure.

Winners are people who never give up.

They develop grit and resilience to press on to success.

If we don’t quit, we will never lose.

When we quit, we’re out of the race forever.

The race may seem long but the finishing line is just around the corner.

Don’t give up on your dream. When you continue to dream, failures will be less formidable and easier to overcome.

7. Learn how to successfully fail your way to success.

Throughout your life, failures can become stepping stones to success and not millstones around your neck.

It can soften you, strengthen you, and enlighten you.

It can soften you in the sense of helping you inculcate humility and compassion.

Better understand and feel for people who are facing challenges in their lives.

Failures can also make you a more empathetic and approachable person.

And strength you to become a wiser and better person.

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

Improve your knowledge, attitude, skills and habits – all of which can make you a stronger person.

In the process of resolving downsides of failures, you can learn how to persist and persevere so as to achieve desired outcomes.

Become more resilient in facing other challenges in life.

Failures can enlighten you to realise that there are many poor, needy and disadvantaged people out there who are facing different kinds of challenges.

You can inspire them with how you turned failures and downsides into advantages of a higher order.

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, it’s hard to truly live and succeed in anything.

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.

Years ago, I rephrased Albert Einstein’s Law of Relativity to create a formula to help people achieve success.

The Law of Success is as follows:

E = mc4

Success is a lifelong journey to pursue excellence.

The good news is that there are multiple pathways to reach different desired destinations of excellence.

To achieve success, you need to develop a synergistic mix of effective mission, commitment, character, competence and compassion.

First, you should pursue a purposeful, electrifying, significant and appealing mission.

If your people do not know what you believe in and are not excited about what you’re working towards, they’ll not follow you.

Second, develop a character that people like, trust and respect. People will not follow you if they’re not comfortable with you and don’t look up to you.

Third, commit your body, heart and soul to love your people and work effectively and efficiently to achieve the best possible results.

Along the journey, you need to continue to improve your competence, including your knowledge, attitude, skills and habits (KASH).

With continuous improvements, you will run farther and faster on the journey to success.

Last but not least, you need to demonstrate compassion, care and concern for people and the environment, including those who are forsaken and forgotten in society.

Your compassion will drive you to run extra miles to value-add to people and the environment and make our world a better home.


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

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

Please ‘Like’ me on

Please visit my website,

Follow me on:

Visit my Inspiration blog at

For my opinions on social affairs, please visit my Transformation blog at

Let’s connect on
– via @patrickliewsg

https: //
– via @patrickliew77

My LinkedIn

My Quora

Please read my reflections and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!


Powered by Facebook Comments

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: