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How to Fail Up

Originally posted November 3, 2020

Girl with flowers in her hair

Over a year ago, I was having a conversation with a friend. During our talk, she expressed her anxiety around being unprepared for her driving road test, especially since she had only done a few sessions.

In addition to that, she had been listening to the stories of all the people she knew who failed. I said to her verbatim, "Acknowledge their stories and experiences, but focus on yours. You lose sight when you get caught up in their failures. If you fail, you can repeat it. Fail up."

These words did the job, because she instantly responded with enthusiasm, "I love that 'fail up!' Ok. I will."

After our conversation, I thought about my past mistakes and how my perspective on failure affected my recovery from that failure.

"Acknowledge their stories and experiences, but focus on yours."

I will admit that I have a fear of failure, but it has to do with major life changing decisions. When it comes to smaller failures I bounce back quickly, because I am a glass half full kind of woman who practices mindfulness and gratefulness.

These are the steps I have developed over time that have helped me through my own personal failures.

Give myself time to grieve. I allowed myself to feel all the emotions that come with failure. No skipping the grieving process, otherwise, I miss valuable lessons.

Take stock of the lessons taught by failure. Try to understand what happened and how any of my actions may have affected the outcome.

Document it. I strongly believe in writing things down. It is easy to forgot things, so documenting how a failure occurred is a great tool for reminding me of what steps not to take, so I don't repeat them.

Forgive myself. I am my biggest and worst critic, and I am very good at giving myself an emotional smackdown. Understand, without failures, there are no successes to celebrate.

Pick yourself up. After you've done the emotional labor needed to heal from failure, you can get back to the business of setting new goals and acting on them.

“Without failures, there are no successes to celebrate.”

So to everyone experiencing some failure at this point, understand that there is success in failures. Take yourself to the next level by cultivating the attitude needed to fail up.


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