Failure is stickier than success. Bad things are easier to remember than good. Luck or preparedness, whatever you call success, is harder to come by.
But a sufficient amount of positives can nullify failure. No one remembers Abraham Lincoln’s “failures” because he saved the Union. No one remembers that Michael Jordan missed over 9,000 shots because he won six championships and five MVPs. Radiohead made a couple mediocre albums after OK Computer but returned to glory with In Rainbows and are still considered one of the best bands of all time. Meanwhile, we can all name a one hit wonder like Ace of Base.
Consistency is king. Success is an accumulation of efforts rather than a collection of errors. People are judged as failures not because they didn’t do great things but because they didn’t do them consistently enough. For example, President Obama pulled America out of Iraq and won the Nobel Peace Prize but declared preemptive war against ISIS. Will his missteps outweigh his accolades? Peyton Manning just lost his 13th playoff game. Does anyone remember his one Super Bowl ring 8 years ago?
Winning changes everything. It minimizes the flaws. But people latch on to failure because they either want to be proven wrong or it validates their own personal mistakes.
The bigger question is what to make of failure. If everything went as planned, we wouldn’t learn anything. The ultimate goal is to fail forward but go out on top.