The Gift Of Failure

I had a horse show this weekend.  I rode extensively when I was younger.  I’ve loved horses from the first moment I saw one and getting back into riding and buying another horse were some of the best things that came out of Covid for me.

My horse show, on the other hand, did not go as well as I would have liked.  I consider myself to be a rather competitive person and, when I was younger, I never had the resources to ride at a highly competitive level.  I want to ride at that level today, but we’re just not there yet. 

We’re learning.  We’re failing.  And that is ok.

Learning how to fail has been an incredible lesson for me.  I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered it yet but working on it allows me to turn experiences like my horse show this weekend from disappointments to achievements.  If one of my goals is to get better at failing, then I need to experience some failures.  Mission accomplished!

Why do I want to get better at failing?  There are two primary reasons.

First, fear of failure is one of the most powerful drivers for many people.  I can think of countless things that I didn’t do, didn’t even try because I was scared that I wouldn’t be successful.  I was scared that I’d look incompetent.  I was scared that I’d fail.

Think of your wildest dream, not the “realistic” one.  Think of that thing that would create your ideal life.

Why don’t you have it?  Are you even trying to achieve it?  If you’re not, it’s probably because you’re scare you won’t be able to achieve it. You’re scared you’ll fail.

Guess what?  You already have failed. 

Not trying is just another form of failing.  It’s just failing ahead of time.  Our brains don’t see it that way because we tell ourselves that if we haven’t tried, we haven’t failed.  If failure is defined as not reaching your desired goal, however, not trying is failing.

Learning how to fail and how to support myself when I do fail gives me the courage to at least try.  It also opens the door for the possibility of success.  There are, in fact, failure advocates out there.  These people will tell you that you should be trying to fail at least 5 times a day. This teaches you how to push your limits and how to get comfortable asking for something and hearing no.

Learning to become comfortable saying no was the first gift I discussed this month.  Learning to become comfortable hearing no is the gift of learning to fail.

The second reason I want to get better at failing is that failure is one of the best teachers in life.

When I think back on my horse show this weekend, I can see so many opportunities for improvement.  I know what I need to work on.  I can formulate a plan to get better.  I can see a path that will lead me toward success.  I can use my failure as a tool to get better.

So often when we fail at something our instinct is to shut down or get angry.  We hide or beat ourselves up.  We do that because we don’t know how to fail.  It probably comes as no surprise to my readers that hiding and beating yourself up rarely lead to lasting success in life. Learning to fail does.

When I work with my one-on-one clients, one of my favorite things to do is to pick an impossible goal to accomplish together.  It allows me to coach them through repeated failures and, through that process, to teach them how to give themselves the gift of failure. I’d love to help you do that too.  Sign up for me free course How To Feel Better On Your Next Shift.  Then when you’re ready to learn more about coaching opportunities email me at