Moving Beyond Failure


We all mess up.

It’s part and parcel of being a human being.

You miss a deadline;

You flub a speech;

You hurt feelings;

You fail a test;

You forget important dates or events;

You blow an important job interview;

You send a nasty email out of anger;

It happens.

How you handle mistakes or failures makes a big difference.

When you beat yourself up, rehashing the situation, over and over, like a movie reel playing the same old scene in your head, you tend to stay stuck.  And although it’s healthy to acknowledge mistakes, when you stay in that space, it can quickly become toxic.

Choosing to find the opportunity in the failure, on the other hand, empowers you, enhances your resilience and creativity, and allows you to learn, grow and make better or different choices in the future.

Here are a few tips to help you process failures and move forward:


Ask, what’s the learning for me here?   What can I take away from this and do differently next time?

There is always learning in every failure, every mistake.  Isn’t that magnificent?!

Take time to discover the learning, and then use that learning as you continue to move forward.  Maybe you need to tighten your schedule, or say NO more often, or maybe you need to hire an assistant (or delegate) to relieve some of your workload.  The learning is yours, and it’s there for you if only you take the time to seek it.


Own it.  Some failure is due to others’ actions and some is due to our own.  Acknowledge your role in the failure. No one likes an excuse-maker, or a blamer, so own your role, make amends, if necessary.

Then, give yourself the space and time to pick apart what went wrong; take an honest account of the situation.  This isn’t a license to dwell and brood.  This is time to really, honestly, authentically reflect on what went wrong so that you can keep from making the same mistake next time.


Shift your perspective. Most of us look at failure as the worst thing that can possibly happen.  Not so (from my perspective).  Failure is evidence that you are moving forward, taking risks, and stretching yourself.  Growing.

Everyone makes mistakes.  Lighten up on yourself (and others!).  The key is the learning you take away and then moving forward and using that learning to take better action.


Acknowledge your progress.  Too often we are so focused on our lack of progress that we fail to acknowledge how far we’ve come, all that we’ve accomplished.  Take the opportunity to write down all of your accomplishments, all of your strengths, all of your learning’s and discoveries.  You might just be amazed at all the great stuff you’ve learned and accomplished, despite a failure or two!


Be easy on yourself.  I’m going to say it again (in case you didn’t hear me the first time); we all make mistakes.  Are you going to continue to grow, try, learn and expand by being hard on yourself?  Probably not.  Well at least not with ease and grace.  So go easy on yourself; pat yourself on the back for trying something new, stretching beyond your comfort zone, being honest.

And remember, “Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”  Henry Ford

Good luck & have fun playing with these concepts.


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