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Failing Well

There are so many moments in life that can make us feel like failures.

The unexpected ending of a promising romantic relationship. The brilliant business idea that never turns a profit. Interviewing for our dream job that is offered to someone else. Watching someone we love & care for suffer, despite our best efforts to help.

There are all manner of losses, defeats, setbacks, and betrayals that can send us reeling, make us question our worth, and leave us with these words ringing in our minds like a mantra: “I failed.”

But so often our “failures” are the result of forces completely outside of our control, especially those caused by the choices of others (which we definitely don’t control).

Simply put, many of the situations that we take on as personal failings aren’t even “about us” in the first place.

It’s just that we mistakenly attached our value and self-worth to an external situation and overburdened ourselves with the responsibility that it MUST succeed. When it didn’t, we took on the blame and labeled ourselves “bad”, “not enough,” or a “failure” as a result.

This is a dangerous method for measuring your self-worth.

A much healthier foundation for measuring your success in any given situation is how well you showed up as your full, honest, authentic self.

If you know you conducted yourself in a relationship with honesty, with integrity, with love, with the fullness of your being - and the relationship ends - it’s not the ending which defines your worthiness. It’s the quality of the person you decided to be throughout the entire process that defines you.

If you give your all to a project, if you offer all the richness of your gifts to a purpose - and external events keep that mission from fulfilling its goal - you deserve to feel dignity for choosing the courage to give your best.

And even if your conscience feels conflicted with the belief that you made mistakes, that you screwed it all up, or that you bear responsibility for certain actions - you can start now, right now, to live in your highest integrity, to make amends, to tell the truth, to be the person you know you are capable of becoming.

If you do this, you can say to yourself with pride:

Even if I failed, I failed honestly.

Even if I failed, I failed doing something courageous.

Even if I failed, I failed in the pursuit of something amazing.

Even if I failed, I failed well.

And when we fail well, it’s no failure at all.

It is transmuted into a success of the soul. A moment of growth. A profound lesson learned.

When we fail well, we don’t fail at all.

We become larger, wiser, more compassionate to ourselves and others.

And that is the greatest success of all.


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