Failing Forward

The only thing that Harland had ever succeeded at was failure. At age fourteen, he dropped out of school and hit the road. He worked as a farmhand but soon quit. He became a streetcar conductor but was fired. At age sixteen he lied about his age and joined the army. It wasn’t long before he was drummed out of the service. Then he tried his hand as a blacksmith. He failed at that.

After an unbroken string of failures, Harland found his calling as a locomotive fireman. He married and a few months later his wife announced that she was pregnant. Again Harland was fired from his locomotive job. Shortly thereafter his young wife gave away all their possessions and moved back in with her parents.

Than came the Great Depression. Harland couldn’t win for losing. After studying law by correspondence, he was licensed to practice. But he lost his career when he got into a fistfight with one of his clients in a courtroom. He got other gigs as a ferryboat captain and managing a gas station but lost those jobs. At age sixty-five he still was looking for a lasting career.

Not long afterward, the mail carrier delivered his first Social Security payment. The amount of $105.00 and something inside exploded. He had struggled all his life and had nothing to show for it. So he took the check to the bank and began a fund to start a new venture. That franchise would become one of the most successful in US history.

The man who didn’t succeed until he had logged a lifetime of failures, who didn’t get started until it was time to stop was Harland Sanders. His “finger Lickin’ good” recipe was Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Colonel Sander’s story teaches us that it’s never to late to succeed. On the other hand, it’s always to soon to give up. No failure is final. Maybe you are on the verge of giving in or giving up. If Colonel Sander's was still alive today, he would agree with this:

Failure is never final or fatal, as long as you fail forward

Reprinted with permission by Robert Petterson, author of the “Book of Amazing Stories.”

Click here for issue 14

Be Safe in the Region of Risk

Roger Hughes

Decoding Human Factors, LLC

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