The Lessons of Failure

April 4, 2017



Written By: Peggy

By Peggy Vinson

Are you the sum total of what you’ve accomplished in the past?


Are you the sum total of how you’ve handled failures?

Have you ever considered these two questions? For me, when I think about who I am now, it has nothing to do with my accomplishments. Instead, what really made the difference is what I learned when I messed things up. I’d like to think these failures have made me a more compassionate, patient and thoughtful person.

Often, we see young professionals achieving a lot early in their careers. They’re off and running and are always looking for the next promotion. They can seem like they’re ready for the next step, but perhaps we should spend more time evaluating prospective leaders by their failures. How have they used the times when things didn’t go well to become a better person and leader?  If they haven’t failed at something, are they really ready for the next step?

Are you making the most of failure? Here are some questions to consider:

  • When a project fails, do you do a post-mortem? Do you take the time to really examine what worked and what didn’t?
  • Have you learned when to take the blame and when not to?
  • Do you take responsibility for what is yours?
  • When someone on your team fails, does everyone else lean in to help?
  • Have you failed at the same thing twice or more? Have you changed your approach? Sometimes you do fail more than once, but make sure you’re learning each time.

I once had a boss who told me: “I know we’re both human and are bound to fail, but let’s fail fast so we can get to the success part!”

I’ve always loved that, but in case you need a little more inspiration:

Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely!
Henry Ford

Make failure your teacher, not your undertaker.
Zig Zigler

I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. That is why I succeed.
Michael Jordan

Those who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try to do nothing and succeed.
Lloyd Jones

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8 responses to “The Lessons of Failure”

  1. Sharon Kunas says:

    Thank you, Peggy. This resonated in a very positive way. I believe that in any arena, someone will succeed, so I ncourage myself and others around me to try and be that person even if there are a few failures en route.

  2. Peg, this came at the PERFECT time! I have a young associate who was beating herself silly over one poor decision…even though I invite my Team to “HAAFFL”! *

    I’m printing and sharing with her right now!

    Hustle And Ask For Forgiveness Later!

  3. John Alexander says:

    Peggy, this was an excellent piece. I copied it and used it the same day to open one of my strategic planning meetings and will continue to carry it for more such uses. thanks for the reminder that failure CAN be an option.

  4. William Vinson says:

    Great article! I’m truly inspired and touched.


  5. Peggy Peggy says:

    Thanks Bill – every day’s got something to offer to improve ourselves!!!