Inspiration: Embracing The F Word…

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all.” J.K. Rowling

Inspiration: Embracing The F Word...

What is our attitude towards failure? Have we recently failed at something and are still kicking ourself? Do we look around and wonder where we went wrong because everyone else is doing great? Do we avoid trying new things because we are afraid to fail? Regardless of how we answer the questions, the fact is that we have all failed or will fail at something and our attitude will be critical to the final outcome. If we fixate on what went wrong instead of resolving to correct our mistakes, we limit our chance at recovery.  Some people view failure as a stepping stone and others see it as a stumbling block. Even if we have different definitions of what failure means, the one defining factor is whether we have that stick to it drive or not – that we don’t give up so readily. Frankly, to borrow a line from J.K. Rowling’s TED speech, “Rock bottom can become the solid foundation on which we rebuild our lives.”

“I’ve come to believe that all my past failure and frustration were actually laying the foundation for the understandings that have created the new level of living I now enjoy.” Anthony Robbins

Inspiration: Embracing The F Word...


TED.com: JK Rowling: The fringe benefits of failure

In the article, 50 Famously Successful People Who Failed At First, we meet some of the most beloved and accomplished people in the world and they all failed at first. From Einstein to Edison, Gates to Disney, Spielberg to King, Rowling to Winfrey and more, the list tells us something – failure is a bump in the road to success. The difference between those who achieve success and those of us who don’t is that achievers find the courage to jump into the fire, get burned and do it again anyway because, as J.K. Rowling points out in the TED video above, there are fringe benefits of failure. Of course, the hardest part is taking that first leap and that is where most of us get stuck…

“Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.” John Wooden

Inspiration: Embracing The F Word...


TEDxManitobaAisha Alfa: Holding Hands with Failure on the Road to Creativity

Today, Oprah’s Newsletter on Thought For The Day shared an article, The F Word: How Failure Can Lead to Success, on how four women found their footing and success after a major failure. The author, Lise Funderberg, first shares her recent failure to win a fellowship and how it led her to speak with four other women about the subject; to consider, as she put it, “what each of them has recognized as the paradox that success requires a willingness to risk failure.” Her interviewees were: Terry Gross, host and an executive producer of Fresh Air, an award-winning show on National Public Radio. Terry got fired from her first teaching job, a challenging gig in a tough school district. She saw her failure as an opportunity to rethink her career plans and found her path to success in radio. As Terry said in the article, “Sometimes when you fail, it’s for a good reason. You’re doing the wrong thing. And sometimes, as in my case, the failure is doing you a favor.”

Lisa Rau, wife, mother of two, and an elected judge in Philadelphia shared her story of losing her first run for elected office and how hurt she felt. She cried over it, but learned many lessons including the importance of speaking about failure, being brave to try again and asking for help. I liked this line from Lisa: “We also don’t talk about failure enough, and that’s part of why everyone is so scared by it. One of the things that’s great about failure is, it’s never as bad as you think it’s going to be.” More below!

“Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.” Oprah Winfrey

Inspiration: Embracing The F Word...

The third person Lise Funderberg interviewed was artist Lily Yeh. Lily accepted an assignment to build a small community art park after months of rejection letters. She was reluctant to do it because the park was drug infested and in a tough neighborhood. As she contemplated resigning, a voice within encouraged her to continue. Today, it is the successful Village of Arts and Humanities; a nonprofit organization that builds community through art locally and globally. The work, though not financially lucrative, fulfills her on a deep and personal level. I liked that Lily shared this: “If I had been very successful—lots of sales and tons of money— the success might have been so glamorous and the profit so great that it would have made me not listen to my inner voice. I would maybe have been seduced by success in the world. Failure was a protection for me.”

Finally, Lise spoke with Carol Venezia, a wife, mom and successful photographer who lives in NY. Carol shared the struggles she endured trying to make a long distance first marriage work. She had hung onto a bad marriage because she so desperately wanted it to succeed… When it failed, she found her career path and a loving second husband. This quote from Carol resonated:  “I finally said, ‘Wait a minute, I’m not going to hold back my life for a dream that hasn’t worked out.”  Each story shared a common denominator, the resiliency of the human spirit to bounce back from failure… But first, we must act on it.  More below! :-)
Read more At Oprah.com: The F Word: How Failure Can Lead to Success

“Keep in mind that neither success nor failure is ever final.” Roger Babson

Inspiration: Embracing The F Word...

“We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success. We often discover what will do, by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake never made a discovery.” Samuel Smiles

What I learned from the interviews and video is that failure can embolden us to shift our perspective and seek a new career path or direction in life. Failure can be a great teacher if we take a deep look at our unvarnished, real selves, stop pretending, hug our wounded self with compassion, and listen to the inner voice prompting us to be bold, to follow a new road, and to trust the process. Like the women mentioned in this post, I have had my share of failure too and every day I remind myself that, as J.K. Rowling shared in her TED video, “Rock bottom can become the solid foundation on which we rebuild our lives.”  What about you?
Stay Inspired! What are your thoughts? Are you scared of failure? What is your attitude towards failure? Do you look around and wonder where you went wrong because everyone else is doing great? Do you avoid trying new things because you are afraid to fail? Do share! Thank you. :-)

Positive Motivation Tip: Failure is not an option if you never try… Fail anyway and strengthen your resolve to rebuild your life.

PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos Train fail, Class Riot, Concrete cylinder, via Wikipedia. And/Or Failure by 4rilla, Fail by awsandlight, via Flickr

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation
Positive Kismet

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79 responses to “Inspiration: Embracing The F Word…

  1. An excellent post as always.. thanks

  2. it would be nice, if Syria’s First Lady Asma al-Assad would learn from the failures of her husband and would, with courage, quit the job, to stand by her man …

  3. Great post, indeed the only people who never fail at anything are the ones who never attempt anything! Life is for living, for taking chances, we only receive blessings or learn lessons. No drama!!

  4. Wonderfully inspiring piece! Another post I’d like to reblog…so great for all my friends to read! Thanks in advance! I hope you get lots of views and followers from my 700 plus friends.

  5. Reblogged this on newfoundlandtraveller and commented:
    No, it’s not what you think! It’s fear of failure and who hasn’t failed at something? Want to share your best failure story?

  6. Great post. Agree with every word. I love Anthony Robbins and pretty much agree with every word I’ve ever heard him say too. Thanks for that. :)

  7. You are really an asset to the blogging world…I have gained so much info and insight …keep it up!…Failure is not in my vocabulary…set backs sometimes…getting better answers…but, not failure!

    • TY for your kind words… I’m learning from all of you too, so the reciprocity helps us all in the long run. Failure is not a dirty word, it’s part of life and we can embrace it without letting it paralyze us… :-)

  8. Funny that you should blog about failure today. After I commented on your post yesterday, I Googled Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of Simple Abundance, and discovered that she, too, had failed. After being wildly successful, she lost everything and had to start over. She’s out with a new book that I can’t wait to read.

  9. Thank you for this post today. Failure has been on my mind a lot lately. But, I try to remind myself that the only true failure is not trying. I get that, but I still struggle, perhaps because I need to redefine what success means to me. What does success look like, taste like, smell like? It is sometimes so easy to look back on change and perceive it as failure, when the reality is that change is just change. My life has had a lot of change, but if I really look at it, there have also been a lot of successes, even though someone else might define success differently. I guess it is all about perspective.

    • It is about perspective and it is also individualized. For some, having a million dollars in the bank is success while for others a happy albeit struggling family is success. TY! for your feedback. ;-)

  10. Wonderful post, all the great people in history had failures before breaking through, I think basically you can’t appreciate the success if you haven’t tasted failure :)

  11. I bookmarked this site so that I could come back and read every article attached to it. I am trying to run my own small business with an employee of one and it has presented countless obstacles to hurtle. I won’t give up so I must continue to find inspiration and wisdom to fight on.

  12. Pingback: The Line Between Success and Failure « Woman Wielding Words

  13. Great post e. I find as I get older, I’m less afraid to fail. I go with the attitude of “what is there to lose?” As you said in one place in the post, “first we must act”. We have to take that step to see if we fail or succeed.

    • Yes and acting is not as easy as it sounds… The sheer thought of it can be overwhelming and then we give up or become lethargic. But we must wake up daily and make even a tiny effort to get us moving towards our dreams… TY :-)

  14. Good thoughts, E!

    “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all.” J.K. Rowling

  15. thirdhandart

    Very inspiring post Elizabeth! It gave me a lot to think about. Thank you. :-)

  16. Failure seems to be trending lately, at least discussion of it. I’ve posted this several places recently and it is one of my favorite quotes:
    “Sucess is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm!”
    Winston Churchill

    • I like the Churchill quote too… Every day we wake up is another chance to chin up, cheer up and try again. I’m in. TY! :-)

  17. Failure is part of life–pick yourself up and try again! Like you said: it strengthens your resolve!

    • It does and when we keep pushing forwrad after a while, we see that light shining on the path guiding us forward or to a new place. TY! :-)

  18. Great Post. I love the quote from Babara by the way. Its so true. At least for me

  19. Pingback: You CAN’T fail and this is why « Proactive living

  20. I’m going to reblog this on LifeRevelation…because it something I have been talking about for years. If you are interested there is an awesome TED talk by Aisha Alfa entitled Failure.

    Be encouraged!

    • Great! I’ll go dig it up and add it to the post. TY for the information on that one and for the re-blog… Much appreciated. :-)

  21. Love this! JK Rowling’s speech is so great.

  22. Inspiring! We often don’t realize how often someone has failed in order to achieve where they are now.

  23. Great Post!!
    Failure is just a step on the path to where we want to be, there is no need for it to define us.
    Thanks for linking back to my post on the subject :)

  24. This is a great post on a touchy subject. No one likes to fail, but failure is a part of life. My greatest successes have often been built on what I learned from a failure.

    • You are right and we live in a culture where some have such mega success stories that some of us feel our little successes are not good enough… Failure is part of life. TY!

  25. Isn’t it great that we have these TED videos…so much good stuff! Boy do I have some failures–I know we all do. But I sure have learned from them! Whew! Debra

    • I love the TED series and each time I get an email, I click over to enjoy the brilliant offerings… The bets of the best. Yes, we have all failed at something and it’s part of life. :-)

  26. There is much good food for thought in this post…I appreciate being able to view JK Rowlings Harvard address. Thanks for sharing it…and thanks for the “like”.

  27. I think failures help us become wiser and better persons. I have so much of it in the past with painful consequences that sometimes I wish they would all just disappear. But life is all about trial and error, it molds us to be best person we can ever be. And one thing great about moments when we are down is that we also realize who are our real friends and family are during these times. Thanks for sharing a inspiring post. take care.

    • You said it well dear one… It is the greatest teacher and shows us who we are, what we are, who we are surrounded by…. a lot more than success. TY! :-)

  28. This is simply the best post I’ve read about failure. Aisha Alfa’s talk on failure was filled with so much great advice. ‘Take the risk to see success’ was one of my favorites. Thanks again Elizabeth! :)

  29. E, what is it about your recent postings that makes me really scratch my head and wonder if we’re thinking along very similar lines lately? I blogged about something in a similar vein not too long ago:
    http://likeitiz.wordpress.com/2011/09/09/824/. I was inspired by a blog entitled “9 Reasons Why Failure Is Not Fatal.”

    I have always believed in this Confucian quote: “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” I hope to live this each day!

    • Great minds think alike… I have similar experiences too of having an idea com up that is shared by others. TY for your comment and I love the quote. :-)

    • TY and I love that quote too. If we stay down we have given up… Giving up is not an option as it denies us the opportunity to learn and grow from our experiences…. Will check out your post. TY! :-)

  30. Very awesome post. I love the famous people who failed first link and the Oprah Newsletter. I’m liking how failure can lead to success. I’m waiting on that bus ;)

  31. Neat post! I am not as scared of failure now as I used to be!

  32. The Anthony Robbins quote is EXACTLY how I feel about the benefits to my present life of my past failures. How many times was The Help rejected? 60 or 70? Life lessons–sometimes called failures–are absolute requirements for eventual success and victory!

    • Life lessons make our success sweeter. It is amazing to read stories of failure and it should be required reading in schools. If we learn early that failure is a step in the direction to success, more of us would try things… TY! :-)

  33. Failure can be liberating – it teaches us to let go of so much that is not important

  34. Kristen Lamb wrote a great article about failure in relation to writing and life generally. Not sure if you read her at all, but you might like her article too.

    My view is if we never fail, we never learn anything. How many times do we fall off a bike or horse when learning to ride? :)

    • True… Failure is part and parcel of life. Some of us experience epic failure and others minor failure, but fail is fail and we can learn from it. I will add the link to my related reading list. TY! :-)

  35. Pingback: FTIAT: Gratitude for Small Things « The Monster in Your Closet

  36. Pingback: You CAN’T fail and this is why — Proactive Life Blog

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