That was the message the first lady delivered to students at an elementary school where the arts are being used to help boost student performance. The school is located in Anacostia, one of the city's poorest neighborhoods.
Mrs. Obama said failure was not an impediment for her and shouldn't be for them.
She also encouraged the students to "try new things and not be afraid to fail, because we have all failed."
"You're looking at the first ... I have failed at things. Things have been really hard for me at times," Mrs. Obama said at Savoy Elementary School. "But all I had to do was keep going and keep working hard."
To further illustrate her point, she pointed to Kerry Washington, star of ABC's "Scandal," as another example.
Mrs. Obama said the actress, who was sitting in the audience for the visit, is a big star these days because she chose to keep perfecting her craft instead of becoming discouraged by rejection during her career.
"She spent a lot of time practicing and working and trying out for things and having people tell her 'no,' 'no, thank you,' 'you're not good enough, you're not pretty enough,'" the first lady said. "Could you imagine somebody telling Kerry that she wasn't pretty enough, she wasn't tall enough, she was too short? That's all performing is, is rejection."
Washington, who is the school's arts ambassador, later said she wasn't sure how that came to be.
"It might have something to do with playing Olivia Pope and having a principal Pope," she joked. Olivia Pope is her character on "Scandal" and Patrick Pope is the school's principal.