The upside of failure

Sometimes it can seem that failure is always a bad thing. Turns out that it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes you won’t be able to see the upside of failure until a while after the event when the clouds have cleared and the sun comes out again. There is a classic Guerlain perfume called ‘Après L’Ondée’, meaning after the rain.

This is the time when the things that you thought were failures turn out to be gifts of a better future than you would have arrived at otherwise.

It is hard to talk about failure. The thing is though you, probably don’t need a life coach who is perfect. If a life coach was perfect and had never faced failure, how on earth would they know how to move beyond it? Without personal challenge or doubt, where is there an opportunity to build strength and faith?

To take some of the charge from failure it is a useful exercise to make a list of perceived failures and then write about any good you can think of that is a result of that failure.

Did you notice that I also said ‘perceived failure?’ Yes, I thought you would.

The other thing is most of the time you get to choose whether to name things as failures, they might instead just be part of the experimentation that is required on the way to your right life. If you don’t figure out what you can’t do, how can you figure out what you can do?

A selection of failures (you mean there were more?)

1) There was my maths teacher who used to put us in rows in the class according to how well we did in the last maths test. If you sat near the window at the front you had scored highly. If you sat near the radiator at the back your score had been low and the boys smelled of playtime cigarette smoke and had the untucked shirt look.

I had been off school and missed how to calculate the number of wallpaper rolls needed to paper a room. (Spacial orientation is not my strong point. I once went out of one screen at the cinema to go to the loo and returned to a different screen wondering where my husband had gone and why Bond was back on the roof of the millennium dome.) I went from the front row to the back close to the radiator. Luckily the boys at the back were kind, I was now in their hood, and they looked after the hood.

Perhaps it’s just as well I didn’t pursue being an interior designer further. Just imagine those annoyed customers when we ran out of Colefax and Fowler.

2) I’m not the perfect mother and yet I am loved in my imperfection and challenged to grow from it. You don’t have to be perfect to be loved is a good lesson to learn as a child.

3) I’m not the perfect wife (but occasionally I get close). 9 relocations in 15 years and all the challenges faced that come from those relocations attest to that.

4) I once transferred  over a million pounds to the wrong place, but found out because I checked my work and was able to sort it out. Phew. I learnt that it really is worth checking.

5) I joined the Navy even though I get incredibly sea sick, turns out the same was true for Nelson. I learnt a lot about myself through the experience of being in the navy, about courage and about community.

6) I got a D in volleyball at school, turns out it’s not my sport! This has saved me many hours of volleyball practice.

7) I wrote two books that were rejected by many publishers. I learnt to keep writing. I learnt to show up on the page. I learnt resilience. This week I got an email to say I would be featured on Huffpost. It’s a good start!

8) I am not the perfect housewife. Things are clean and tidy, but not always neat as a pin. Instead I have a full rich colourful warm life and home which does not feel like a museum.

9) I found teaching really took so much energy from me when I went into it hoping it would be such an energy giving job. This led me to train as a life coach and I am now doing work that I really love.

10) When I went to dog training with my dog he chose to do things his own way. Why ‘come when called’ when there is a squirrel to chase? Turns out he has character and individuality. Where we failed in dog class we won in a lifetime of puppy scampers round the garden (him, not me) and duets with him singing while I play piano. Aroooooooo!

What failures turned out well for you?