Rewrite Your (Failure) Story

When thousands of people began reading what I was writing, I got scared. Each day I looked for more ways to reassure myself that everything I did would lead to a little more success, that each step would be safe. Eventually, I got so scared of failure, so scared of 'losing it all', that I stopped risking failure altogether.

It took me a long time to figure this out, and it seems so obvious to me now, but you cannot have success without failure. Success is achieved by overcoming failure. You can't have one without the other. The more that you try to avoid the risk of failure, the more you avoid the potential for success.

Here's something else I realized: a 'success story' is just that, a story.

There's nothing special or magical or mysterious about success. It's a story. It's a recollection of a specific series of events that follows the hero's journey, a common template that stories have been following for thousands of years. It involves 1) facing a challenge, 2) choosing to accept the challenge despite the risk of failure, and 3) overcoming the challenge.

A failure is just an incomplete success story.

A failure is one of the steps on the way to success. It's a toddler falling down on her way to running, the scale not budging on the way to getting in shape, and the frustration of inadequate knowledge and experience on the way to achieving a dream.

There are so many success stories and so few stories of failure because failure is a story that we don't want to hear (and because it's only part of a bigger storyβ€”it's an incomplete success story). Failure is a painful thing that reminds us that success requires work, that it requires effort. A story about failure reminds us that our work and our effort might not get us to where we're trying to go, that getting to where we're trying to go might require more work, and more effort.

The narrative of your life's story is controlled by what you choose to focus on. Reframe your story by consistently focusing on the positive, not the negative. Focus on the potential for success, not the risk of failure. Tell yourself a different story. Is there a chance you'll fail anyway? Sure, but focus on the positive! What positive thing might come out of failing? Focus on that.

If you choose to focus on the negative, all you'll see is negative. If you choose to focus on the risk of failure, all you'll see is failure. That's how stories work. Whatever part of the story you choose to focus on becomes your reality. It becomes your story.

Remember, you don't need to have a perfect record. You only need to show up more times than you don't.

So show up. Rewrite your story.

Write a Comment



    • Sue,

      Thank you so much for reading, but more importantly, thank you so much for sharing. I just spent 1 hour reading your post and my life feels richer for it. Bringing your experiences and stories and life lessons into my mind felt like being taken on a journey into another world.

      I was at the Brevard Zoo earlier today in Florida feeding lorikeets and one sat on my shoulder, not interested in food, but instead kept pecking at my cheek as if to give me a kiss and occasionally screeching something loud in my ear. It’s a deeply connecting thing to relate with other creatures on a level that transcends physical forms (something the virtual world helps all us humans get closer at tapping into).

      • Hi, Thank you for the lovely reply to my story. This is a difficult story to read with your intellect and ego. I wrote it to reach the soul of people. You are one of the few who read it the way it was intended to be read. Now we both are aware of the depth of each others’ spirituality. Nice making contact with you in this way.

  1. I really liked your definition of failure!! From this angle and with this perspective it has lost its taint of hopelessness.