I am a Failure, but Failure Leads to Success

Meet the Real Me — The Failure.

For decades, I have evaded my true identity.

Today, I am accepting my reality and telling everyone the truth…

Hello, I’m Kristi and I am a failure.

(I feel like I am introducing myself to a support group!)

For too long, I’ve done almost anything to protect myself from admitting my failures – including playing the blame game, deflecting, and, worst of all, inaction.

I made a bad habit of hiding behind inaction — my so-called-friend. It seemed that as long as I was in a state of idleness, my truth would not be exposed. And, nobody would find out I am actually a failure.

For much of my life, I’ve fallen into the trap of not trying very hard. As an example, in high school I wouldn’t study for a test. That way, if I didn’t do well on the test it was because I didn’t study. And, was not the result of failing to study well or retain the information. For my perfectionist friends out there, this is called black and white or all-or-nothing thinking.

When I would break away from my co-dependent relationship with inaction, I would recite my favorite mantra failure is not an option. Repeat, failure is not an option.

Inevitably, like clockwork, I’d fail. Even though I told myself I would not.

You can image how this would feel. While I didn’t want failure to be an option, it was somehow was a possibility regardless if I accepted it or not.

All my failures were somehow a reflection of me and my abilities. Or, I guess, a lack of abilities. By failing to achieve what I set out to do, that meant I was a failure.

In other words, I thought by failing to accomplish what I wanted — it made ME a failure.

Failure is Not a Bad Word (Seriously)

Ok, I get it. This is hard to believe. We typically associate failure as a bad thing. It can be difficult to see how failure can lead to success.

It wasn’t until recently I started to see failure in a new light. In fact, I only had a change in heart within the last year or so. And, I can tell you exactly when I started to reconsider my stance on failure. It all started as I sat watching my kids in karate class.

On this particular day, the karate instructor was testing their knowledge. It was to assess their ability to complete the sequence of steps they had been working on for the past couple of weeks.

Some kids were enthusiastic about this challenge. However, there were a couple of the students were too scared to get up and demonstrate the moves they had been working on. These kids didn’t want to test at that moment because they were afraid.

The karate instructor saw an opportunity to teach his students an important lesson. He seized the moment and launched into his pep talk. One line stuck out to me and I couldn’t hear anything else…

“Failure is an event. You are not the failure.”

mr. White, oma

There, that statement stopped me in my tracks. In fact, I immediately scribbled the phrase down on a piece of paper so I could reference it later. This simple concept made me reconsider my friendship with inaction and got me thinking about failure in a new way.

A Newfound Appreciation for Failure.

I want to share the invaluable lesson with you in hopes it helps you to have a new perspective of failure also.

We really need to stop thinking of failure as a final destination. Contrary to popular belief, we do not become our failures. It is time to look at failure as a stepping stone toward success.

Failure is not an inadequacy within ourselves. Failure is inevitable. Learning to embrace and accept failure is important. But, what matters most is what you do with that failure.

Today, I challenge you to look back at your failures with a new perspective. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How have past failures brought me closer to where I was meant to be in life?
  • What lessons have I learned from failing?
  • And, how did past failures help me to find the path I am on now?

Serious Failure Ahead

Maybe sharing some failures I’ve had over the years will help you to see what I mean. Of note, this is an abbreviated list (I actually deleted some).

Here is a collection of various failures I have had over the years…

  • Studied psychology in hopes of being a behavioral therapist, but (nearly) failed my intro to psych class (2002)
  • Declared Hotel Restaurant Management as my major then changed after one semester (2003)
  • Started to work my way up in management in two jobs… then quit both (2003-2005)
  • Flipped products on Ebay for a bit (2005)

{A slight gap here while I dedicated my time to becoming a dietitian}

  • Sold Pampered Chef products (2011)
  • Tried my hand at being a clinical dietitian, but decided it wasn’t for me (2010-2013)
  • Attempted to create a blog about eating like a vegetarian for 30 days – I don’t even know if I made it a full 30 days (2012 or 2013)
  • Planned to open a private nutrition practice with a friend for over a year; we never worked with any clients (2014)
  • Worked – what I thought was – my dream job in school nutrition; it lasted only 1.5 years (2015-2016)
  • Taught college courses – with dreams of making it my lifelong career, but didn’t (2013-2016)
  • Started and ran an online nutrition business (2016-2019)
  • Wrote a CEU article for dietitians that was never published (2018)
  • Drafted several chapters of a book that I decided to scrap after months of working on it (2019)
  • Tried to offer CEUs for dietitians (2019)
  • Submitted a crap ton of speaking proposals only to be declined – multiple times (2018-2020)
  • Spent a month working on a grant application… I didn’t get any money (2020)

For years, I’ve carried these failures around with me. They have weighed me down, despite the fact most people didn’t even know I had tried and failed at these things.

Carrying these failures with me daily has caused me to feel inadequate. I’ve felt like I was a failure in the sense that something was wrong with me. This is not a self-esteem booster. It is time to break this negative cycle…

What about you?

  • Do you have a collection of your own failures?
  • Do you carry them around with you everyday? Even if you aren’t consciously thinking about them?
  • How does this weigh you down or hold you back from taking action?

These are some questions intended to get you reflecting on your own failures. To be honest, it might be difficult to answer them without feeling like crap. Instead of allowing yourself to go down the pity path, remember these questions are intended to help you reevaluate your own relationship with failure.

Shining a Light on Failure – a New Perspective

Now, I see all my failures in a new light. These failures used to be an unspoken scarlet letter on my chest shouting to everyone “I’m not good enough.” However, now I’ve had a shift in perspective.

Each of these “failures” were actually stepping stones to help me to uncover my true passion. Had I not taken the time to explore these avenues, it is very likely there would be a little thought in the back of my mind, such as…

“What if …”

… being a college instructor was my missed opportunity?

… I was supposed to be a clinical dietitian?

… I would have had a great career in school nutrition?

… my true passion was creating CEUs for dietitians?

Today, I can say with certainty these failures, which were once ranked as top options for my career path, were not for me.

In these instances, I know I will not look back with regret.

Instead, I now look back with gratitude for these experiences because they helped to guide me. I would not be who I am today if I hadn’t tried and failed at all these things. Why? Because I tried them and decided they weren’t for me. These “failures” helped me to realize that these goals were not for me. And, they helped to guide me toward my true passion.

Actionable Steps to Overcome Failure

Answer the questions asked above — What about you?

  • Do you have a collection of your own failures?
  • Do you carry them around with you everyday? Even if you aren’t consciously thinking about them?
  • How does this weigh you down or hold you back from taking action now?
  • Take stock of your failures and reframing them.
    • As awful as writing down your failures may sound, it can be a part of a therapeutic process. You might even consider writing them down on a piece of paper that can later be burned in a bonfire.
      • A sad – but necessary – disclaimer, please exercise caution when burning your list.

Look back at your failures (or review your list from the last section). And ask yourself the following questions….

  • Would I have taken a different path in life if I had not tried and failed at these things?
  • What silver linings can I identify?
  • How can you take an imaginary thread and connect the dots between your past failures and who you are today?
    • Stay positive here, you are more amazing than you give yourself credit!
  • Liberate yourself from this list.
  • Go back to what Mr. White said to his karate students, “Failure is an event. You are not the failure.”
  • It’s almost as we (members of society) have been conditioned to connect our own identity to success and failures.
    • Please resist the temptation identify yourself as a failure. Failure are simply an event.
  • Other ideas?
    • If you have other ways to help someone overcome failure, share with us in the comments! We want to know what has worked for you.

Above all, remember failure leads to success.

What might feel like a terrible thing right now, will likely end up leading you to where you were meant to be… but, first, you must learn to trust the process.

Tell us what you think