Yes, Failure Is an Option!

When’s the last time you’ve blown it big time?

Maybe you passed up a great job opportunity.

Or you screwed up with a client and they fired you.

Or you started a new business that lost more money than it made.

Or you divorced who you thought was your soul mate.

People tend to believe there’s something shameful in “failing.” They don’t talk about their screw-ups. They don’t think about them. Instead, the failure weighs them down like a huge boulder. Every time they go to do something different – get in a new relationship, start a new business or land another client – the failure boulder crushes their spirit.

“Are you crazy,” it says. “You remember what happened before. Why are you even THINKING about this?”

So, you contract. You pass on opportunities. Life gets smaller and more scary.

My response to that: Screw failure!

Here’s a secret: You know that person you admire? The person who has the “perfect life” with the “perfect income?”

They’ve messed up time and time again. They’ve just learned to deal with it.

I was brought up in a “failure is not an option” household. If I got solid “A’s” on my report card, my father wanted to know why I didn’t get A+’s. If I was #2, there was a huge discussion about why I wasn’t #1.

Maybe you got the same message.

I learned – gradually – to fail. Sometimes, I didn’t land the client I wanted. Sometimes, my relationships didn’t work out. Sometimes, my business took turns I didn’t want it to take.

Oddly enough, there was always an upside to failure. My next relationship was always better. I eventually landed a cool new client. And the weird business twists and turns always worked out.

Slowly, I realized that failure was an option.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t had the crap kicked out of me. I’ve gone through extreme business and personal failures that knocked me on my butt. I was depressed, scared and I isolated myself. For months.

Yet, now I can look back and say, “Thank goodness for that situation.” Because the failure taught me things. I learned I was strong. I was resilient. And I always land on my feet … even though it seems like it’s a long, long way down before I land.

If not for my various failures …

– I wouldn’t have met my wonderful husband.

– I wouldn’t be in the best shape of my life.

– I wouldn’t have the compassion I have for people going through various health and financial difficulties.

– I wouldn’t have created the exact kind of business that fits my personality and work habits.

– I would be facing various health problems as a result of my lifestyle.

Derek Cromwell had a great line in the LinkedIn SEO Copywriting group (and his note is the inspiration for this blog post.) He said:

I’ve grown to the point where when I see that fall coming I put my arms in the air and scream “weeeeeeeeeee!” on the way down.

I love this! What a visual!

So go ahead. Make mistakes. Screw up. Embrace your failures and learn from them. Put yourself out there. Live your dream. If you mess up – so what. We ALL mess up.

Just scream “weeeeeee!” on the way down. :) Just like Buddy the Corgi on the twisty slide:

Life is much sweeter when you take a few risks along the way. Why not go for it?

9 replies
  1. Amy C. Teeple says:

    Wow Heather.

    I can totally relate to this post.

    Not only was I raised in a “failure is not an option” household, but also this has been a year of “failures” for me. I will be discussing some of these in Monday’s post (which I wrote before I saw this) – great minds. :-)

    Failure has definitely taught me that I can survive – it also reminds me who my true friends are and how wonderful they are! (Thank you for being one of those wonderful people.)

  2. Graham Segal says:


    Here’s slightly different perspective on your topic of the week. As an owner of a company that fails, you will not see yourself praised for your good judgment, business acumen and wisdom. You will not be lauded on the front page of your local newspaper; unless of course, the magnitude of your losses sets a new record for business mismanagement. And who in their right mind would want to be remembered for setting such a dubious record?

    However, from another perspective that you may not have yet considered in detail, the fact that many businesses everywhere are in trouble or distress is quite normal. Put another way, business failure is everywhere around us, and that fact is given credence by the business failure statistics issued by government authorities worldwide. That business failure is both endemic and everywhere is as it should be in free economies in democratically governed countries.

    One of the fundamental rights of a free economy is the right to fail. Think about that for a moment. After all, is it not the purpose of business competition and competitive business strategy to eliminate or at least substantially reduce competition so that customers and clients will only turn to your products and/or services to satisfy their wants and needs?

    Doesn’t business competition and competitive business strategy mean that some businesses must fail to ensure the success of others? Isn’t the history and tradition of business riveted in failures just as it is in successes?

    I hope this adds a little to the debate on such an important topic.

    Graham Segal

    • Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

      @Graham – great points, and I completely agree. Business failure is quite normal – it’s like survival of the fittest from a business perspective.

      Look at folks like Donald Trump (I’m not really a fan, but he’s a great example.) He’s failed a number of times – and his failures have all been quite public. He’s certainly learned from many of those mistakes and gone on to make even more money.

      We all have the right to fail. And failure provides some wonderful gifts. It’s just too bad that it has such a negative connotation.

      Thanks for your comment!

  3. Zafifi says:

    Great stuff Heather. Yeah, let’s embrace failure. I fail to reply to your comment before because I fear of being screw up commentator that no one notice me.

    And here I am – my first comment on

  4. Shauna says:

    I’ve failed A LOT (and I’m not afraid to admit it). As a perfectionist, failure does make life that teensier bit more difficult but with age and wisdom (ha ha!) I know that without failure I’d never learn and I’d never grow. So bring it on! In any case, what’s the other option? To die wondering. And that’s something I’m not prepared to do. Loved that beautiful little dog too, great inspiration!

    • Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

      @Shauna, I love your comment. You’re right – there really is no other option (well, there is…but exercising that option means that you’re never really living life.)

      I loved the little dog too – I used to have a corgi, so that made me love the video even more!

      Thanks so much for your note!

  5. gTeamers says:

    Failure is a part of life and we can’t simply runaway from it , we have to accept it and should work on it to achieve success.Similar things happen while developing softawares , we have to write the code again and again , and after so many failure and with the help of team work we have been able to create so many good software for our clients.


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  1. […] – I wrote this post before I read Heather’s wonderful post Yes, failure is an option! Her post really struck a chord with me – the first two items on my “half-empty” list […]

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