Screenshot: BBC/YouTube There might be no better representation of failure than when a project you’ve been working on explodes spectacularly in front of an audience of thousands. When SpaceX CEO Elon Musk does it—like his company arguably did at the very tail end of its Starship prototype launch on Wednesday —the agony of failure is made tactile in towers of flame and clouds of burning shrapnel live-streaming around the world. Musk is a billionaire industrialist and brash public figure who is famous for his resounding success in multiple industries. And yet he still fails often, occasionally even seeing his ambitions of constructing rockets that will ferry humans to Mars literally going up in flames. He isn’t the only successful magnate or icon to occasionally wallow in the pits of failure. Thomas Edison is renowned for acknowledging his close relationship with failure ; for years, J.D. Salinger’s literary genius went unsung as his short stories were continuously rejected by the New Yorker; Michael Jordan didn’t make his high school’s varsity basketball team on his first attempt. We needn’t always take cues from the endeavors of wealthy tycoons—especially those with reputations as checkered as Musk’s —or from visionary inventors or legendary athletes. There is a lesson to be learned from the stumbling blocks overcome by the immensely successful as well as the anonymous. Failure stalks us all, no matter how many triumphs we relish over the course of a lifetime. But failure can be instructive. There are often important lessons, if […]