The Master Has Failed More Times: Quote Explanation

In our pursuit of personal growth and mastery, we often encounter obstacles and setbacks that test our resolve. It is during these challenging moments that the quote, “The master has failed more times than the beginner has tried,” by Stephen McCranie, offers a powerful perspective. In this article, we will explore the origin of this thought-provoking quote, delve into its profound meaning, and shed light on the valuable lessons it imparts.

Origin of the Quote:

The quote, “The master has failed more times than the beginner has tried,” was coined by Stephen McCranie, a comic artist and author. It appears in McCranie’s book titled “Brave New World,” where he reflects on the nature of expertise and the journey towards mastery.

Exploring the Meaning:

Stephen McCranie’s quote carries a wealth of wisdom and insight, challenging our perception of failure and success. Let’s delve into the layers of its meaning to uncover the profound lessons it conveys.

  1. Embracing Failure as a Stepping Stone: The quote emphasizes that failure is not only inevitable but also an essential part of the journey towards mastery. It suggests that true expertise is not achieved without encountering and learning from numerous failures along the way. By reframing our understanding of failure, we can embrace it as a valuable stepping stone towards growth, resilience, and ultimate success.
  2. Persistence and Learning: The quote also underscores the importance of perseverance and continuous effort. It highlights the contrast between a beginner, who may shy away from attempting something difficult due to fear of failure, and a master, who has overcome countless failures through sheer determination and resilience. The master’s failures, rather than deterring them, have become valuable learning experiences, fueling their progress and development.
  3. Redefining Success: McCranie’s quote prompts us to reevaluate our definition of success. It challenges the notion that success is synonymous with an absence of failure or a smooth journey. Instead, it suggests that true success lies in the ability to persistently learn, adapt, and grow from each failure. By shifting our focus from a fear of failure to a commitment to continuous improvement, we can redefine success as an ongoing process rather than a fixed destination.
  4. Mastery and Humility: The quote also conveys the importance of humility in the pursuit of mastery. Masters in any field understand that expertise is not a static state but a lifelong journey. They recognize that even with their extensive knowledge and experience, there is always more to learn and room for improvement. By acknowledging their failures and embracing a beginner’s mindset, masters remain open to new possibilities and maintain their passion for growth and innovation.

Expanding on the Topic:

To further explore the topic, it is beneficial to consider how McCranie’s quote aligns with other notable philosophies and approaches to personal development. The quote echoes the teachings of resilience, emphasizing the value of bouncing back from failure and adapting in the face of challenges. It also resonates with the growth mindset, a concept popularized by psychologist Carol Dweck, which emphasizes the belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed through effort, dedication, and a willingness to learn from failures.


Stephen McCranie’s quote, “The master has failed more times than the beginner has tried,” serves as a powerful reminder that failure is an integral part of the journey towards mastery. It encourages us to embrace failures as opportunities for growth, persistence, and continuous learning. By redefining our perception of success and adopting a humble and resilient mindset, we can navigate challenges with determination and ultimately achieve true mastery in our chosen endeavors.

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