What do you make failure mean?

That might be considered a loaded question and it is a valid question nonetheless. Failure does not mean anything in and of itself. It is a word in a dictionary with various meanings but it is the meaning you ascribe to it  that makes the biggest difference.

Whether you fail or not isn’t the issue.

You will fail.

That is a given.

It is how you frame failure that makes all the difference. If you are not careful it will trap you in unhealthy relationships because leaving would mean you’ve failed again. I certainty know that one well and ascribing the word failure to ending a relationship has meant I have stayed in relationships long past the use-by date. Equally, it can stop you from even starting something new so you avoid failure by playing it safe and living a life less fulfilling than you might otherwise do. This a recipe for regret and getting caught up in conversations that center on the right thing to do and the wrong thing to do and all the “what IF’s” you can muster.

It is far more useful to examine your past “failures” and view them in a different light.  Here is where re-framing is particularly useful.


What is the difference between success and failure?

There are key differences between those that achieve success and those that do not. One difference is in the perspective taken around the concept of failure.  Simply put failure is viewed more like a lesson.  So when looking back the past does not contain a series of failures rather it is viewed as a series of lessons on the pathway to success. In other words, they tell themselves a different story simply through shifting their perspective.


What is your relationship to failure?

“Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.”

― Thomas A. Edison

Edison tried many thousands of time to invent the light bulb before he found a working model. It shows how he valued perseverance and a powerful relationship to negative results:

  “Negative results are just what I want. They’re just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best until I find the ones that don’t.”

― Thomas A. Edison


Now that is a great story to tell yourself around failure. It is one that relies more on persistence than anything else. It is a way of perceiving failure that  I aspire to and fall short of often.

What story do you tell yourself around failure?