Celebrating Our Failures

There is a danger about living our lives in a positive way. What’s that, you ask?

We may feel ashamed when things don’t turn out the way we thought they would. We might feel that if our desires are sincere then the outcome should be assured. To avoid the pain we may even refuse to admit the situation.

“What a wonderful opportunity I’m having,” we may say when our experience goes south. Okay, I get it. I know bad events, even tragedies, can turn out months or years later to have a blessing of some kind. But stay with me.

What I want to suggest is that we start being a little more willing to use the “F” word in our daily lives. Not that “F” word! This one:


“But we don’t fail! It’s just a success that didn’t work.” Oh for God’s sake! I couldn’t ever quite put this into words the right way until I read Beth Kanter’s article in the Harvard Business Review, “Go Ahead, Take a Failure Bow.” It finally showed me just how positive a failure can be!

Kanter quotes the work of psychologist Sol Rosenthal who shows how a index finger wags at us or how we wag our index finger at someone else. Instead of using the failure as a way of bettering ourselves, we can easy blame others, be blamed or blame ourselves.

Even more harmful is to ignore the situation altogether. It’s that SEITL Syndrome – “Smelly Elephant in the Livingroom” Syndrome. Just keep ignoring it and it will go away or at least after a bit of time we’ll get used to the smell.

There are going to be times when what we do just doesn’t work out the way we planned. Instead of trying to make a sow’s ear into a silk purse, we can happily throw our arms up in the air and shout with pride, “I FAILED! I FAILED!” It’s not about blame; it’s about taking responsibility for the result. Then we laugh at the situation or foibles and decide what we can learn from the mess in front of us to move closer to what we really want.

Kanter’s approach works in a business environment or a personal one. It gives us permission to make mistakes on our way to success! How refreshing is that, instead of shaming ourselves or others?

I invite you to rejoice and celebrate a failure of your own some kind this week. If you have a moment or two, give Kanter’s article a look-see at:  https://hbr.org/2013/04/go-ahead-take-a-failure-bow


I promise you won’t be disappointed. I especially liked the joyful funeral eulogy to the death of the failure and the staff that wears pink boas to celebrate their failures!

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,


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