Failing at Failing vs. Successfully Failing

We’ve heard it over and over again: failure is essential to one’s success. Right?

We’re encouraged to let go of fear, jump and embrace the unknown because failure is inevitable and even an indication you’re doing something right.

Failure is part of being actively alive, there’s no doubt about it. And it has become the most interesting part of many successful stories. Underdog fails, risks losing everything or even loses everything, and rises up from her or his ashes triumphant.

It’s J.K.Rowling, a single mum living on food stamps and attempting to write a serial Y.A. book at a time Y.A. literature wasn’t a genre (yep). It’s Elon Musk pouring his fortune into SpaceX to build spaceships at a time space exploration meant a TV footage and a quote from the 60s to most people.

We’re fed on those BIG success stories. And we love them.

That’s the end of Act 2 in every Hollywood three acts story. In screenwriting, we call it the “EVERYTHING IS LOST” moment. We love those moments because deep down we want to believe there’s always an after, and that that losing after is a successful happy ending.

But for failure to become a leading component to success, you need to go through one major step: learning from it.

You can fail and rise and try again. But if you haven’t learned anything from your failure, you’ll fail, and rise, and try again in an endless loop, Sisyphus style.

There is not shortcut. You must learn from your failure. Because failure indicates something is missing or wrong in the equation you built to reach your goal.

Yes rising is hard. But it’s not enough. Rising is not enough.

You need to question why you failed, and learn from the answers, so when you rise and try again, it is no longer a loop, it’s a spirale. And you’re circling closer and closer to the center.

Here’s what failing at failing vs. successfully failing would look like:

It’s one tiny step that seems obvious to most but that’s often omitted when we tell success stories punctuated with failures.

Sheer perserverance is not enough. You need to learn something from your failures or you’re just being stubborn.

That’s what it takes to improve and reduce the gap, hit the nail on the head and express what you have to say the way you want to say it.

Try. Fail. Learn. Rise.


Nathalie Sejean is a co-founder of Activate Creativity, a platform that helps people reconnect, stretch and nurture their creativity.

10.28 Detox™ is a CREATIVE Detox that takes 10 minutes per day, for 28 days. It starts every Monday.