How can we use our failures to advance and adapt (in anything)? How can failure change medicine?

Originally aired on April 18, 2019 on

In this program I will talk about the chapter I wrote for the recent Jack Canfield book “Success Breakthroughs”



Persistence is a universal quality of all successful endeavor. One reason many will fail to move forward in the face of overwhelming odds is the extreme difficulty experienced when trying to be persistent while failing. To relate this to my story what would have happened if I were to have given in to my desire to quit integrative oncology when Billy died? What if I had not gone on the quest to learn more and innovate, would Lilly have had anything new available to her? It is during our worst failures we are often being taught our most profound lessons. One key to persistence is to remember that a failure is just that, one point in time, and you have the rest of your life to learn from it and move on. Easy to say but hard to do. Persistence can lead you to step two.


Curiosity and learning go hand in hand with innovation. Learning and curiosity can be separate but when combined create a powerful position for you to move through failures and on to the next breakthrough. Curiosity is that force that is creative and motivating while learning is the stabilizing and grounding force that makes sure your curiosity leads to innovation. It is easy to forget that innovation and success after failure is rarely a single event. You are usually knocked down repeatedly in the process of moving through a failure. Without the combination of a curious mind to search for solutions and the ability to learn from (and not repeat) past failures it is too easy to fall into despair and become stagnant. Curiosity propels you beyond each failure with a knowledge that you do not know everything but the answers are out there. You can literally see that there is more than we know “out there” and that eventually you will find it. “Finding it” requires the next step.


Just as the combination of curiosity and learning take those two processes to the next level combining boldness with being informed allows the action which can propel you to the next level. Boldness alone is a good quality but if it is not informed can lead to disaster. Being informed is important but the world is full of people well informed but afraid to act. You need to “do your homework” and be informed but you also then need to act. Why is this so rare? It is easy to act and it is easy to be informed but when informed it is more comfortable to sit back and let someone else act. “What if I act and it doesn’t work” your mind will say. This fear is the most common reason people do not move forward. It is uncomfortable to take the leap to informed action but moving past your comfort is required to find success through your failures. When you do take the leap you come face to face with the next inevitable step.


Once you take the leap past failure using informed action you come face to face with the truth of the “you are never” reality. You are never done learning, never done trying, never done failing, never in possession of all the facts, your curiosity is never satisfied and so on. Once you can see the power of this step you realize that every day (instead of a day full of answers and success) can be a day of challenge, exhilaration and joy in discovery. It is the greatest generator of hope one can have in this process. Use the power of “never” and you will truly never be the same. Once you embrace this step you can enter the most powerful step.


There is little point in achieving successful breakthroughs if you keep them to yourself. What good is an invention or innovation if nobody else knows about it? My experience is once you find success through your failure and share it then the journey (including the trials and setbacks) becomes worth it. I passed the therapies learned from Lilly and her remission on to other physicians and scientists for free and now it is the basis for an entire system for treating cancer used in many places around the world. Successes come at too high of a price not to share them and better the world we live in. Without persistence, being a curious learner, informed boldness, the truth of “never” and passing it on you cannot move from our inevitable failures to success.



Listen to “How can we use our failures to advance and adapt (in anything)?” on Spreaker.

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