Turning “Embracing Failure” into “Failing Successfully” re: Fast Company – Part 2

October 1, 2014 § Leave a comment

In Part  1 of Turning “Embracing Failure” into “Failing Successfully” re: Fast Company and my opposing views included in the article I discuss the hype surrounding the Embracing Failure philosophy. Here, in Part 2,  are some techniques and tips I use with clients for turning a failure into a successful failure.

“Embrace Failure” does have to be part of everyone’s life philosophy. Not embrace as in to run after or strive for failure, but to accept failure in life as a reality. In that way one can prepare for the inevitable and continue on personal and professional missions in order to achieve goals. Then one can Never Give Up. If a person thinks failure will never and shouldn’t happen, then when it does they’re stopped dead in their tracks.

Knowing it will happen allows a person to work with the reality and learn from it. Some questions I work with clients to answer are; 
  • What lessons have I learned? 
  • What can I do differently in the future? 
  • What worked? 
  • Which elements were within my control? 
  • Which variables couldn’t I control? 
  • Am I willing to continue on this path? 
  • Is this something I want as much as I thought I did? 
  • Is there a better way to go about achieving this goal?
  •  Is it time to walk away from this particular method for achieving the goal and trying something new?
  • How can I learn to tolerate the feelings of failing at something I attempted to do?
  • What do I do next? 

By defining “Embrace Failure” as thinking that means a person doesn’t have to try, or trying and giving up too easily instead of trying something different. That would be abandoning a goal that is reachable because one particular method of achieving it didn’t work. As I work with clients to “fail successfully” part of the work is figuring out what’s not working and how to make constructive and productive changes. Those include literal and practical changes, mindset changes, emotional changes and behavioral changes.

As a society I think “Embrace Failure” is becoming a cliche and excuse really fast. We should be treading lightly because we don’t want to set ourselves up to be a failure society where failure is all wonderful and everyone will now get a trophy or kudos for failing in the way they were getting them for trying or just showing up.

The phrase “failure is not an option” has power to it. It doesn’t always happen that way, but when I work with clients we work really hard to set large goals and smaller goals. I also work with them to strategize how to achieve each of the goals. The point being while one might fail in some smaller attempts toward the larger goal, or the larger goal posts might shift as they work toward them, but with the expectation that things might&will sometimes go wrong. Then, working to develop a unique methodology that each person can incorporate in their lives, to match their strengths and work within the parameters of personal challenging areas. Working in a conscious way with that knowledge a person can persevere and continue.

A major issue in all of this is the speed with which people expect success to happen. Especially in our hyperfast, hyper-everything worlds. Success takes work and time. It can be slow and arduous to achieve. It can be frustrating and excruciating. The questions I ask are; how badly do you want it? Do you want it badly enough to work through failure? To tolerate failure? To tolerate the feelings that come along with failure? To learn from failure and fail successfully? 

I‘m not a fan of the phrase “embracing failure” because it focuses too much on the actual failure as an end result and something twee. I work with clients to turn failure into something they can work on and learn from, which is why I use the phrase “failing successfully”. It’s not holding the failure close to you in and of itself, it’s taking it and saying how can I make this an experience I can learn from and use moving forward.

Embracing failure can keep you stuck in the failure. Using failure successfully propels you forward

Enjoy the day your way,



Rebecca Kiki Weingarten M.Sc.Ed, MFA




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