You cannot climb the ladder of success dressed in the costume of failure.

You cannot climb the ladder of success dressed in the costume of failure. – Zig Ziglar

What does that mean?
While I disagree with the old saying “clothes make the man,” I don’t believe this costume of which Zig refers to is clothing. I believe this saying refers to your attitude and your beliefs as the costume.

If you are shrouded in the bad attitude of failure, if you don’t believe you can succeed, it will indeed be very difficult to climb the ladder of success. Not unlike wearing your heart on your sleeve, wearing your bad attitude and lack of belief for all to see will be as obvious to others as if you had a small storm cloud hovering over you, raining.

Why is belief important?
To climb the ladder of success, whether at work, at home, or in sports, you cannot wrap yourself in failure. If you have done so, your very appearance will tend to drive away the very people from whom you most need help. Your posture, your attitude, your facial expression, they will all contribute to, or detract from, to your costume.

Belief is fundamental to your ability to accomplish tasks, whether it’s climbing the ladder of success or getting groceries from the store. If you believe you can do it, and are going to be successful, you can handle a setback and still keep moving forward (or up the ladder). If you are expecting failure, your first setback is an excuse to quit.

Even in the costume of failure, you have a belief, an expectation. In the case of the costume of failure, the expectation is failure. What you believe, you will (with effort, intelligence and courage) achieve. What do you believe that you can or cannot do?

Where can I apply this in my life?
Belief is a powerful force. If you believe the worst of yourself, you have little trouble finding every instance where you did poorly, ignoring all the other times when things went well. It hasn’t changed the past, nor has it actually changed your “batting average,” but you will be less likely to try if you believe it will end in failure.

Not only will you be less likely to try, you will probably not put as much effort into a task if you believe failure is likely, nor will you spend as much time planning or preparing. In short, your belief cheats you of any real chance of success and becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Many people give off clues as to their belief in themselves, or in the compete lack thereof. We just finished watching the whole Harry Potter series of movies, and in the second movie Neville Longbottom asks “Why is it always me?” He had just been picked up by pixies and hung by his clothes from a chandelier.

At the time, Neville was an introvert and believed the worst in himself. He had plenty of data to support his belief, and ignored all the data that didn’t fit his theory. To answer his question, his posture, his face, his expressions and his beliefs completed his costume of failure. And that tends to attract people (or pixies, in this case) who are looking for someone to mess with.

What kind of belief do you have in yourself, and what costume do others see you wearing? Let’s ignore your faults and shortcomings, we all have them (but try not to dwell on them – recognize them, compensate for them and move on).

Grab some paper and write down several successes you have had. They can be from any portion or aspect of your life and at any time in your life. You can come back and repeat this at any time, focusing on specific roles or times, as you desire.

Select one and write a short paragraph about why you were successful. Was it a skill, was it preparation, was it quickness, was it hard work, or was it something else? Now take some time and think through your past, looking for other times you used your ‘success maker’ abilities in other situations. Take brief notes. When you are done, you should have quite the road-map for a rock solid belief in yourself and your success.

Take some time to scroll through the list of successes you achieved using that particular mechanism. How do you feel? This is the real you, without the artificial baggage of fears and failures. Drop the costume of failure and live the life of your possibilities and your abilities.

By the final film of the Harry Potter series, Neville has become both an accomplished leader as well as an accomplished wizard (his earliest fears were that he was a ‘squib’ or a person unable to use magic). He just needed a few successes and a better focus on what he was truly capable of becoming.

You may not turn out to be one of the finest wizards in the world, but you don’t have to spend your life believing you are a failure. We all have failures and successes. What we believe ourselves to be, we will become. Choose wisely, or all might come to ruin.

From: Twitter, @Zig_Quotes
confirmed at :
Photo by jimmyharris


About philosiblog

I am a thinker, who is spending some time examining those short twitter quotes in greater detail on my blog.
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One Response to You cannot climb the ladder of success dressed in the costume of failure.

  1. Pingback: Beliefs have the power to create and the power to destroy. | philosiblog

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