A can of WD-40 lubricant

Every failure is a step closer to getting it right. Take the example of WD-40, the go-to loosener for bike chains and squeaky hinges.

It gets its name because it uses water displacement (WD) to prevent rust and lubricate the joints. The “40” in the name is because this particularly effective recipe was the team’s 40th attempt to make a winning concoction, Attempts 1-39 were all failures. But lucky number 40 was a winner.

WD-40 is now found in almost every garage, workshop, and tool drawer in the world. Luckily for them (and us) they didn’t get discouraged after the 20th or 35th attempt.

So don’t be deterred by mistakes, setbacks or wrong turns. They’re lessons. Learn them and keep going.

An additional thought on mistakes and failures

Consider how lucky the WD-40 team was. Thomas Edison faced repeated failures in his quest to invent the electric light bulb. But he never gave up. He just gave us this quote “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” And of course, he did in fact invent the light bulb. And the whole way along he saw each failed experiment as confirmation that he was getting closer.

And, in the end, he was right.