Failure is a reality and something we will all experience-multiple times.  Regardless of what happened, failure can give us this sense that we cannot accomplish what we set our for ourselves.   It is often defined as being the opposite of success making it even harder to understand its significance in helping us learn and grow as individuals.  While there is not magic pill that will make the feeling of failure go away, there are some tricks to help us re-frame our experiences.  

goal setting

Don’t let failure define you

If we all let failure get the best of us we would never get to where we want to go.  Some of the most influential people have failed and used this as a stepping stone to get to where they are today.  For example:

  • Steven Spielberg was rejected from University of Southern California TWO times
  • Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team
  • Oprah Winfrey was fired from her job as an anchor in Baltimore
  • Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting before he died
  • Lady Gaga was dropped by a record label

Fail Forward

Failure is inevitable at some point and life is unpredictable.  We can plan long and hard for every possibility but it may not work out as we imagined.  This is the time to take a step back, reflect, and learn from the experience to move forward. Ask yourself:

  • What were my small wins?
  • How did I use my strengths?
  • What resources did I use that were successful and which ones could I tap into?
  • Who can I reach out to, to talk through this experience?
  • When I try again, should I approach it the same way or is there another angle I could take?

Take time for yourself

Going through and processing a recent failure can be really tough. It’s one thing to be ready to move on and pick up the pieces but another to get there.  Take some time for yourself to process and even throw a super small pity party.  It’s OK to have a few moments to cry and let out your emotions but don’t let this stand in your way of learning from what happened and moving past.



If you are still working through a recent failure and want some more expert advice, check out these these 5 Ted Talks.  They all provide a unique view on perspective, self worth, and how to define success.

The Power of Vulnerability

Brene Brown talks about expanding perception, shame and the fear of disconnection.  She breaks down the differences between individuals that have a strong sense of love and belonging and those that do not and how this relates to our feelings on self worth.


Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Angela Duckworth reviews how learning quickly and easily is not as powerful as grit.  Grit helps us make our future a reality by living life as a “marathon and not a sprint.”  She discusses the importance of following through on our commitments and growth mindset.



Failure and the Drive to Keep Creating

Elizabeth Gilbert talks about the “difference” between success and failure and how to find your home.  A home is a place that you “love more than you love yourself.”  The most important part is to not give up on finding and creating your home regardless of the outcome.



The Power of Yet

Carol Dwek helps us understand that just because we haven’t done something yet does not mean we can’t.  She talks about the difference between fixed and growth mindset and the importance of moving past the “now.”  



The Beauty of a Misfit

In this inspiring talk, Lidia Yuknavitch walks us through her life as a misfit and her “missed” opportunities.  She offers courageous advice to get through the moments when we feel sorry for ourselves and be grateful for our past experiences.




What Ted Talks have inspired you and what have you done to work through a recent failure?



goal setting workbook


Alissa Carpenter

Alissa Carpenter

Forbes Contributor, Professional Trainer, Speaker and Career Coach at Everything's Not OK and That's OK
Alissa Carpenter offers professional development and career exploration to companies, alumni groups, student advising units, and individuals across the country. She works to enhance team communication, teamwork and interpersonal skills with an upbeat personality and true passion for working with others to set and achieve goals.Alissa has an MEd in Social and Comparative Analysis in Education, is a Gallup-Certified Clifton Strengths Coach and is certified in the Strong Interest inventory.
Alissa Carpenter

Register for The Webinar!

Grab your spot! Seats are limited!