Why I’m Celebrating Recent Failures

We’re a little over three weeks into the year… and by now many “New Year’s Resolutions” have been abandoned… great plans have been filed right in that round bin labeled “trash”…

But does that mean failure?

Do you think of success and failure as two opposite things?  Two different roads to be traveled like that image on the left?

I used to.

A failure means I’m a failure.  I went the wrong way.  I did the wrong thing.  I made a poor decision.  I’ve got to back waaaaay up and find that path to success.

But I don’t think that way anymore.  Or, I try not to.

Failure happens on the pathway to success.  It’s the same road.  And it’s in the pushing forward through the failures (not giving in, giving up, and going backwards) that we achieve success.

I’ve been working to re-frame failure in my own mind as discovery.  It’s only failure when I give up without having learned something about myself or the process.

Send out an email to your list that gets a dismal open rate?  You didn’t fail.  You just discovered what time/day or subject lines may not work well for your audience.  Try again.  “Fail” better.

Write a blog post that gets zero traction?  It’s not a failure.  It’s an opportunity to learn from it and try something different next time.  I go from a post that gets 50 comments one day to one that gets 0 the next.  Whoops.  It’s feedback.  I’ll work to do better.

Have you tried to write every day as part of the Ultimate Blog Challenge and are discovering it didn’t work out or that you’re a few posts behind?  What’s the lesson?  Could be that you need to discover what will motivate you to write more, or find the tools to make it easier, so you can push through and make it happen and celebrate a huge success.  Or it could be that writing daily isn’t the best plan for you because something else works better or is a bigger priority for you right now.  Either of those discoveries (or the thousand other lessons you could be learning from the process) are valuable!

Knowing yourself and being brutally honest with yourself takes courage–and it takes “discovery” that can come through challenges and failures.

My blog, my business, my life — they’re all works in progress.  Others might look and see failure (or success).  But really it’s just a process of discovery.  Of finding what works and what doesn’t and doing a little better every day.

Last week I learned I could survive something I didn’t think I could.  I wasn’t perfect.  I could have kicked myself for one particular moment.  I’d love to go back and do it again and do better.  A year ago, I would have cried my eyes out afterwards for the failure to be perfect… but I am choosing to celebrate the good parts and learn from the mistakes.  Next time I’ll do better and now I know where I need to improve.  That’s awesome.

Celebrate every success, big or little.  And celebrate the lessons you learn from the less than successful moments, too.

Jump off more cliffs.  Say yes more often.  Know that sometimes you’ll crash and have to get back up and try again.  But you just might soar.  Isn’t it worth the risk?

So me?  I’m celebrating that in recent successes and failures I’m learning more about myself, discovering what works, and that I can step beyond my comfort zone and even when I fail, it’s okay, because I’ve found a soft place to fall where I can be gentle with myself and I can always try again.  And again.

Let’s celebrate together.  What have you learned lately from a success or failure in your blog, business, or life?

Image Credit: borysshevchuk/StockFresh

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  1. Hi Michelle!

    I believe that there’s always a lesson to every failure or even something that isn’t working quite right. Sometimes it could just be a tweak in a schedule or personal mindset or maybe even using a better social tool; whatever it is, there’s always something to learn!

    Thanks for the awesome post. :)
    Morgan recently posted… Social Proof: Bringing The Internet Together To Fight Against SOPAMy Profile

    1. That’s it for sure, Morgan–always something to learn.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… I Want to Help You With Your BlogMy Profile

  2. Michelle, what an awesome way to look at and reshift our thinking about “failure.”

    There is always something new to learn from both our successes & our failures (or mistakes). I like that thought of choosing to view them as “discoveries” now. Thanks!
    :) Debra

    (FYI Got this message from CommentLuv when I posted “XML error: Mismatched tag at line 131, column 8”)

    1. Yes, I like the idea of “discoveries” much better!

      P.S. Try using the Feedburner URL — http://feeds.feedburner.com/WriteDirection — that error is something to do with the XML feed from WordPress having itself a little fit. :)

      1. Just a heads up @Michelle, that the Feedburner URL worked. Much appreciated. Thanks for helping me transform that posting “failure” into a successful new discovery.
        Debra Jason recently posted… Heading in The Write Direction for 23 YearsMy Profile

        1. Awesome. Now if only I could figure out why… lol

  3. Great article. Every time I read your writings, I get fired up. Very inspirational. Thank you Michelle.
    George Kuchenmeister recently posted… Years of Work and WorryMy Profile

    1. Thanks, George. I appreciate that.

  4. Really nice to read about your perspective when it comes to dealing with failure, Michelle. Every decision and opportunity that we come across can either be a roaring success or a failure. It’s definitely way easier to handle success than deal with failure. Sometimes, many people end up not even trying anymore because of the fear of failure. Your post definitely serves as a motivation for people never to give up.
    Adeline recently posted… Enter the Dragon: Celebrating Chinese New Year in the PhilippinesMy Profile

    1. The fear of failure can be immobilizing. It holds us back from so much!

      And yes, success is much more fun to handle. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… I Want to Help You With Your BlogMy Profile

  5. I learnt that what might seem as a failure can be turned into a huge success. Well, sometimes, at least.
    I practiced in picking up the scattered eggs and convince fellow cooks that this was not disasterous for the recipe.
    I confirmed that, when we’re scared to go ahead, we should just… do it – because it has to be done.
    And many more.
    Helenee recently posted… Odyssey: A Tale of HomecomingMy Profile

    1. Sometimes it does just have to be done. Fear or no fear, got to just keep pushing through it.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Don’t Give Up, Don’t Shut Up, Just Keeping Showing UpMy Profile

  6. Hi Michelle,
    It seems we are travelling a very similar path from “perfectionist” to “it’s ok to make mistake if we learn from them” personalities. Just like you, twelve months ago any tiny, tiny, tiny mistake would have me shattered and not knowing what to do next.
    Now I can:
    – ask myself if this will matter in one month, six months, a year and so on;
    – not panic so severely;
    – look at what went wrong and what I can learn from it;
    – focus on identifying and implementing alternative solutions rather than floundering in the error.
    You too will progress down this path. No, we won’t always be “perfect” at it but as long as we keep trying we can only get closer and closer to success.
    Cheers, Caylie
    Caylie Price, Better Business Better Life recently posted… Bring It! What Value Do You Bring To The World?My Profile

  7. They’re not failures- they may be mis-takes or mis-steps. The trick is to convert them to great-takes or perfect-steps.

  8. I’m with, Roy. I’m all about taking baby steps. It moves you forward and if you fall, it doesn’t mean you’re a failure at walking. It just means you get up and get going again. :-)
    Cathy Miller recently posted… Making a Date With Your BusinessMy Profile

  9. Hey Michelle,

    If we don’t learn and move on; then we really have failed. But if we have, then failure is just one step towards success! :)
    Hajra recently posted… Will they call you over for a bloggers party?My Profile

  10. I’m reminded of the famous Thomas Edison quote when a reporter talked about his failures before inventing the light bulb: “I didn’t fail. I invented a light bulb. It was a 10,000-step process.” Now THAT’S perseverance!

    I’ve tended too often to do the easy stuff, and if it gets hard, to go elsewhere. I’ve been lucky that enough things have been easy for me that I’ve built a career. Taking your column as a reminder that I’ve GOT to make time and do the hard stuff to find markets for my new monthly column, Green And Profitable. Writing the thing is easy. Finding paying customers–not so much. But it WOULD be easier if I went out there and queries potential markets.
    Shel Horowitz – Green/Ethical Marketing Expert recently posted… Despite Court Ruling, Vermont Could Order Vermont Yankee to Shut DownMy Profile

  11. I love this post! All of us need to give ourselves permission to fail. If we don’t fail, how will we learn anything? And without failure, we’ll take our successes for granted. I’m also moving away from perfectionism and focusing on what I’ve learned from any failed attempts. Thanks for the awesome reminder that we’re all human, that we all make mistakes, and that we’re all a work in progress.
    Lisa Kanarek recently posted… 5 More Business Mistakes and How to Avoid ThemMy Profile

  12. Michelle,

    I like this post. It tells me, I like a plane or a ship have to make small course adjustment. Some would call this tweaking. Well, let the tweaking begin. A good thing is tomorrow is a new day. I take tomorrow as my new beginning to try again.

    Mike Cleveland recently posted… Content opens doors to building business relationships that leads to trust, by personality, perspective, and value.My Profile

  13. I can genuinely wrap my arms around this post and your thoughts, Michelle, since I’ll openly admit I’ve experienced FAR more failures than successes … and that’s okay.

    It’s best for me to simply view my failures as an essential component of my learning curve.

    So you’re right! The success path and the failure path are one in the same. :)

  14. Michelle,

    Fabulous post – when I did my NLP training, one of the things I learnt was that ‘There is no such thing as failure – only feedback’ and it has served me well.

    Anyone who has the courage to try something new, has experienced their fair share of ‘feedback’ lol.

    I love that you encourage us to jump off a few cliffs this year – it reminds me of a favourite quote:

    “Come to the edge, he said. They said: we are afraid. Come to the edge, he said. They came. He pushed them . . . and they flew. ” ~ Guillaume Apollinaire
    Heather Bestel recently posted… Support and Advice for MumpreneursMy Profile

    1. Wow. I need a “like” button on comments. :) That is a FABULOUS quote!

  15. Awesome post, Michelle. Don’t even have anything to add…just…awesome :)
    Terri Zwierzynski recently posted… Find Time on Cyber Monday to Explore Gremln: The New and Improved TwAitter That’s Coming SoonMy Profile

  16. very inspiring, thought provoking post, have copied what you said about “Knowing yourself and being brutally honest with yourself takes courage–and it takes “discovery” that can come through challenges and failures.” onto a huge piece of paper to stick on my office wall as a huge reminder

  17. I have a habit of setting myself up for failure. When the first thing goes wrong I give up. I have been working hard on changing that mindset. Last year I wrote freelance articles for numerous clients and was very proud of myself for not giving up when things became difficult. My blog is fun and therapy at the same time. Even if it never becomes successful (in a figures sense). It has been successful in being my outlet through very difficult times.
    Vivian recently posted… The BoxMy Profile

  18. I loved the reframe on failure. I am always looking at what has or is happening and discovering more about myself. I started out the blog challenge very excited with new posts, then repurposed some material, then stopped after 22 posts because I wanted my posts to be meaningful and on topic. I also decided to do my first teleclass. I feel my confidence in blogging carried over to the teleclass. and I really enjoyed reading other bloggers posts.

  19. Hi Michelle,

    When I started my business I wish someone had told me before it’s OK to fail because you’re learning. In the beginning every mistake I made really got me down and held me back. I’ve always shrived to be perfect.

    But now I think who starts a business and sails through perfectly, never making any mistake?

    That would be strange!

    Naomi recently posted… 7 Easy Ways to Think Creatively for Your BusinessMy Profile

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