A Word about Failure



flickr, Rebecca Nicole Montana

When it comes to digging yourself out of a hole,
excellence is an excellent defense.
But failure takes you deeper.

Failure stretches your edges.
Excellence takes you deep within a narrow pool,
but failure grows your breadth.

Excellence makes you an expert at something.
Failure makes you strong at humanity.

Here’s why:
After the failure – you get to see that you’re still alive.
Because you’re still alive, there is hope.
Because there is hope, you can try again.
Or, you can choose to move on.

After the failure, you get to see how the world responds to you.
This clarifies things for you.
Those who are still next to you can be counted on.
Those who have fled are not able to go deeper in their relationship with you.
Do not chase them.
Trust that their response is a gift,
because now you know where your relational edges are.

If no one remains, lean even more into your relationship with Spirit.
As a matter of fact, do that anyway.
Because Spirit is omnipresent.
You can trust that.

Your strongest relationships will be based on Spirit.
Because Spirit is ONLY about the real and eternal.
Like Truth. And Love.
Real love. The kind that transcends personalities.

After the failure, you get the opportunity to deconstruct what happened.
You get to look at your part and see if there is learning there.
You get to choose to learn from the learning.
When you choose to learn from the learning, you get better.
And that is Wisdom. More about that in a sec.

After the failure, you might fail again.
But, now you know how to use failure to work toward your advantage.
And so, you just repeat.

Did you notice something here? Repeated failure is the pathway to excellence.
So fear failure less. Because excellence is not possible without it.

There are all kinds of excellence.
You can be excellent at an art form.
You can be excellent at making croissant.
You can be excellent at computer programming.

But you can’t be excellent at everything at once.
Because there isn’t time.
Excellence requires repeated rises from failure.
And repeatedly rising from failure requires time.

So choose carefully what you decide to rise from.
Otherwise, you may end up making the mistake that Stephen Covey (blessings, sir) talks about.
You climb the Ladder of Success, only to find it is leaning on the wrong wall.

Anyway, back to the idea of time and excellence.
Since there isn’t time to be excellent at everything – you have to make yourself comfortable with the idea of strategic mediocrity.

You can develop excellence at some things.
You can get very good at others.
But there isn’t time to be excellent at everything.
That means you have to choose.
Or not.

If you choose, you get to decide to shape your excellence plan around what matters most to you.
If you don’t choose, if you allow the world to choose for you,
Then you will be really good at a whole bunch of things that mean nothing to you at all.

So choose.

And, as life unfolds, and challenges you,
As your failures show themselves to you,
Don’t forget that you have chosen what matters most.
That way you won’t get distracted and end up living a meaningless life.
And your regrets will be fewer.

One more thing about failure –
It’s not your successes that bring you to your greatness,
It’s your failures.

Here’s why –
When you succeed, there is not much left to learn about that thing.
You have completed that particular life lesson,
You know how to do it and do it well.

Because failure stretches you,
All learning comes from failure.
All WISDOM comes from failure.
At the very least, you learn what NOT to do.

In fact, I might even posit that Wisdom is not possible without failure.
Because success doesn’t bring it,
Wisdom is distilled from the lessons of failure.
Thus, without failure there can be no WISDOM.

So, the next time you try something scary, remember this:
The ONLY things that can happen are,
Or failure, the pathway to all Wisdom.

Seen this way, you can’t lose.
Strike that, you CAN lose.
You can decide not to try.
That’s what failure looks like.

Love, Jen

P.S. Here at Life After Tampons, we are women who choose to use failure as the touchstone of forward movement. If that sounds like you, please join us:


flickr: Rebecca Nicola Montana

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12 Responses to A Word about Failure

  1. Marie says:

    Hi Jen. You hit the nail on the head with this topic. The last major and I mean major failure I had was at work and derailed my career for a bit. But you are so right about what comes out of failure. I made such life changes out of that failure which at first was completely devastating. The failure led me to coaching and a wonderful new way to be (both professionally and personally). When I was finally moving forward looking back was hard, but several years later I was able to see all sides and my part of the failure. Thank goodness hindsight is 20/20. I spent the last part of my career doing some really interesting work and putting some balance in my life. Now I handle life so much better and realize it took the failure to open my eyes and make the major changes. Thank goodness for coaching and I was so enchanted by coaching, I became one!

    • Jennifer says:

      Marie, Good for you for showing up for your beautiful self. Congratulations on all your hard work, I’m so glad it paid off for you.


  2. Such an interesting perspective on failure! I’m often hesitant to do something new and different. There’s probably a seed of fear of failure in that hesitancy all mixed up with my genetics and star scopes! Thanks for this nudge.

  3. Tiffany says:

    For me, this is so profoundly validating that I must print and frame it! My whole life makes sense in a new way. Wow. Just wow! A remote hug and my heartfelt thanks. xo

  4. Gail says:

    I really enjoyed reading this — especially today. It helps to put things in proper perspective. Thank you!

  5. Sheila says:

    One of the best posts I’ve ever read on any site.
    Thank you, Jen.

  6. Madeline says:

    Resilience – that’s what makes us women.

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