Life is a Revelation…be encouraged

Success via Failure

Question: Where does the saying, “standing on the shoulder of giants” come from?

Answer: First attributed to (but likely predating) Bernard of Chartres (d. 1124) in the form “We are like dwarfs standing upon the shoulders of giants, and so able to see more and see farther than the ancients.”

Commonly attributed to Isaac Newton in 1676 (500 years later) in a letter to Robert Hooke in the form “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” This was probably a veiled insult directed at Hooke, who was short (a dwarf standing on the shoulders of giants). As found on

So why am I starting a blog entitled Success via Failure by quoting something obscure about standing on the tops of giants. Usually we look at this quote to explain how the current successes are built upon the former successes of those who came before us. Often time the dwarf part of the quote is our humble admittance that what we are succeeeding at is actually quite a small thing when compared to the success of others who not only came before us, but it is their towering success which enabled our feeble success.

But what if the “giant shoulders” are actually not the shoulders of great successes from the past? What if those “shoulders” are actually something completely different? What if they don’t represent success at all? What if instead of success, those “giant shoulders” are actually all our failures stacked one a top the other? That’s right, instead of a string of ever increasing successes, we are looking at a compilation of our failures. What we have accomplished today is in reality constructed on what hasn’t worked instead of what has.

In another words, we have inspected what failed in the past, analyzed it, tweaked it, reformatted it, scrapped what was obviously wrong and tried again. Only to re-evaluate, re-create, re-form, re-whatever it took, and repeated again, and again, and again, until we had a success.

I thoroughly realize in our success oriented culture we don’t have much room to romanticize the failure. We don’t have documentaries about failures. But let me remind you that failure is something that happens. It happens to all of us. It is not a person. No person is a failure. I’ve attempted quite a few things in my life that have failed and you are reaping the benefit of it. I believe my failures have given me an interesting way to look at situations. They have opened my eyes to see things that may not have been visible otherwise.

So if you are in the midst of a failure, start the re-part of it. start re-creating, start re-forming, start re-utilizing, start re-whatever until whatever it is becomes successful. Build on those failures. Don’t give up, not now, not tomorrow, not next week, or next year, not ever!

Life is a Revelation…Be encouraged!

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