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failure IS an option.

The Stigliano Chronicles - Fail Road

My life is a series of failures.

I’ve failed at quite a few things in my life. More than I probably care to admit. Sometimes they were epic failures. Sometimes they were tiny mistakes. No matter how hard I try to scrub myself clean, I’ve got failure all over me. It sticks to me like vinyl seats on a hot summer day and just won’t come off. It’s like I have a giant blinking neon sign over my head: Failure. Failure. Failure. Failure. It lurks around every corner and can’t wait to sink its razor sharp claws into me as I go down kicking and screaming.

Failure is not always evident, sometimes it’s a slow process, other times it’s of the crash and burn variety. Failure is a chameleon coming in all different shapes, sizes, and patterns. It could be about to happen to me right now, but I’m too busy typing this to even notice. Failure is good at coming when you least expect it.

“Houston, we have a problem.”

Regardless of whether you believe that Gene Kranz every uttered the phrase or not, “Failure is not an option.,” is about as American as apple pie. I’m here to tell you that I like cherry pie. I disregard this phrase every day of my life. Why? Because it’s not only an option, it’s a requirement. I got to thinking about failure recently while speaking with AgentGenius’ very own Chris Griffith and ActiveRain member, Craig Rutman. In two completely different conversations, I was reminded of my thoughts of what it meant to fail.

In chatting with Chris about her “MLS Fail Shots” series, I thought about my first listing and what had happened there. After a few emails, I decided to come clean with Chris and offer up myself as an example. You can see the results for yourself – if you can hold in the giggles over how bad I handled the photos.

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With Craig, our telephone conversation zipped from point to point. Craig’s great for a chat and it was a fascinating conversation, full of funny stories, tips and advice, and talk about our lives as agents. Somewhere in there, I remember Craig talked about how you needed to fail in order to learn how not to fail. I’ve actually had this post title in my head for a long time and I told him about it. The phone call left an impression on me and here I am on a Wednesday night pondering failure once more. Seems my week has been full of “failure.”

“But, if I fail, I lose…right?”

Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzz! Wrong answer! Failure will always be the winner’s way. Failing is about opening yourself up to accepting that you’re not perfect, that you might not know everything, and you may have made a mistake here or there. Constant failure may not be a good idea, but without the occasional failure you never move forward. Failure is life’s educator. Failure is a reminder to sharpen your skills. Failure will kick your butt, throw you down in the mud, and laugh at you. Do you want to lay in the mud waiting for the crowd that’s gathered to start laughing like Nelson Muntz (Ha-Ha!)? Or do you want to get up, wipe the mud from your face and keep on moving? Stagnate or forward momentum? Failure is not just an option, it’s the only way forward.

photo courtesy of fireflythegreat

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Written By

Matt is a former PA-based rockstar turned real estate agent with RE/MAX Access in San Antonio, TX. He was asked to join AgentGenius to provide a look at the successes and trials of being a newer agent. His consumer-based outlook on the real estate business has helped him see things from both sides. He is married to a wonderful woman from England who makes him use the word "rubbish."



  1. Rudy

    June 3, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    Home run my friend.

    I’ve had my share of “life learning experiences” in the past. We all have. One of the things that can set those that grow and succeed apart from those that constantly “fail” is so simple – acknowledgement. Think about and accept what has lead you to the place where you are, and learn how to avoid those same mistakes in the future. Repetitive results with no progress = failure.

    Another saying is – “Winners never quit and quitters never win” – by Vince Lombardi. In my opinion, not true. If you read the book “The Dip” by Seth Godin, you’d know that knowing exactly when and what to quit at the right time can be the best thing for you. Know when to say when……..

    Blog on rockstar!

    Social Media Guru at Trulia

  2. Joe Loomer

    June 4, 2009 at 7:02 am

    Awesome MAtt – If it doesn’t kill you – it only makes you stronger.

    …Or as my buddy SEAL Master Chief Mad Dog Madison used to say – “Pain is just weakness leaving your body!”

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  3. Matt Thomson

    June 4, 2009 at 9:09 am

    Gary Keller’s theme of his ’09 company address was “Down is the new Up.” By that he meant exactly what you are saying. You need to get knocked down to get back up. That’s where you grow and get stronger. Failing your way to success is hard and humbling, but history shows it’s where the greatest levels of success come.

  4. Matt Stigliano

    June 4, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    Rudy – I had to wait to get to this one, but I’m glad it’s finally here! I like your/Seth’s way of viewing that infamous Lombardi quote…there is a time to admit it’s time to throw in the towel. It’s a hard balance between failing for progress and flat our failing to recognize that you’re not improving with each failure.

    Joe – Military people (all branches) always have the best quotes to push people to new limits. Your buddy’s is one of my new favorites. Unfortunately, I don’t like the feeling of weakness leaving my body all that much either.

    Matt – I’ve read excerpts of different things by Gary Keller and I find him to be a bit of a realist with a dose of motivational speaker. I typically don’t enjoy the “hang in there kitty” type stuff, but sometimes I need it. Taking over my failures is one of those motivational moments…when you can control the situation, you can control the outcome.

  5. Lani Rosales

    June 5, 2009 at 11:30 am

    @rerockstar you may have just written a new American mantra, “Failure will always be the winner’s way.” This may be my favorite article of yours… it’s so hard to take risks because failure is highly possible, but when that risk pays off it’s SO sweet.

    We really love having you here- most people just starting off in the industry would be terrified to comment on a blog let alone write for one on this magnitude. You sharing your trials as you learn the industry is helping others and we thank you!

  6. Matt Stigliano

    June 6, 2009 at 8:19 am

    Lani – I hate failure, I have to admit it’s one of my biggest fears. But, I also recognize without it, I can’t move forward. Being a new agent isn’t easy in any way, shape, or form. It’s a big world out there, there’s so much to learn, you face the stigma associated with being a new agent, and it doesn’t pay well to start. It doesn’t surprise me one bit how many people don’t make it very far in this industry. By learning that failure doesn’t mean the end of the game though, I can push through the bad days. And I do have them. I’ve thought before “is this really for me, is this really working out the way I had hoped?” It comes with the territory. I’m no positive thinking coach, but I know enough about the will of the brain over life. By recognizing the power of failure to create a better, stronger, faster, smarter you – suddenly, you can do anything. A failure is nothing more than a misstep. When you trip on your shoes while walking down the street you don’t give up walking…you just learn to keep your feet from tangling up underneath you.

    I love being here and I don’t thank you nearly enough for the opportunity. Not only has it given me a chance to tell new agents how I feel as I go through what they’re going through, it also gives me the opportunity to connect with agents that I want to be like. AgentGenius helped me find people that thought of the industry the way I did and helped me shape opinions when I didn’t even know I needed one on a subject. That’s invaluable to me. The day of the Rolodex is long gone, but if I had one on my desk in front of me, I’d know I could always reach in there to pull up a name to help answer my questions. Not just the writers either, but the community as a whole. With all the help and encouragement I received here at AgentGenius, my articles are just my attempt to help pay a little bit of that back. If I can encourage one agent to hang in there, I’ve done my job.

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