Growing a Tolerance for Failure: The Key to Success According to Jensen Huang

In a world that often idolizes success and demonizes failure, Jensen Huang, the co-founder and CEO of NVIDIA, offers a refreshing perspective. His advice, “If you want to be successful, I would encourage you to grow a tolerance for failure,” is not just a catchy phrase but a profound insight into the essence of achievement and innovation.

The Reality of Failure in Success

Huang’s statement underscores an important truth: failure is an integral part of success. History is replete with examples of individuals who faced numerous failures before ultimately achieving success. From Thomas Edison’s thousands of unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb to J.K. Rowling’s initial rejections from publishers, the path to success is often paved with setbacks.

The Silicon Valley Mindset

In Silicon Valley, the ethos has long been to “fail fast, fail often.” This mindset, embraced by Huang and other tech leaders, posits that failure is not just inevitable but valuable. It’s a learning tool that provides invaluable insights and lessons that can lead to greater achievements. By cultivating a tolerance for failure, one becomes more resilient, adaptable, and innovative.

The Psychology of Failure

Psychologically, tolerating failure is about developing resilience and a growth mindset. Psychologist Carol Dweck’s research on fixed and growth mindsets reveals that individuals who view failure as a learning opportunity are more likely to succeed. They’re more persistent, open to challenges, and willing to learn from their mistakes.

Practical Steps to Develop a Tolerance for Failure

  1. Reframe Failure: View failure as a stepping stone rather than a roadblock. Each failure is an opportunity to learn and grow.
  2. Set Realistic Expectations: Understand that setbacks are a natural part of the process. Expect them and plan for them.
  3. Analyze and Learn: After a failure, analyze what went wrong and what can be learned. This reflection turns failure into a valuable lesson.
  4. Cultivate Resilience: Build your emotional and mental strength to withstand setbacks. Resilience can be developed through practices like mindfulness and positive thinking.
  5. Celebrate Small Wins: Recognize and celebrate small achievements along your journey. This helps build confidence and momentum.


Jensen Huang’s advice to grow a tolerance for failure is more than just a pragmatic approach to success; it’s a philosophy that embraces the full spectrum of experiences in the pursuit of achievement. By learning to see failure as an inevitable and instructive part of the process, we open ourselves to greater possibilities, innovation, and eventual success. In the end, it’s not the absence of failure that defines success, but our response to it.

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