Failing Successfully

Has the fear of failure stopped you from trying something new? Or perhaps it has prevented you from going further in your career or achieving your life aspirations? Maybe, just maybe, we need to look at the concept of failure from a different perspective…  Written by Ollie Coach, Louise Benson.

The is no failure, only feedback.

Ask yourself these questions:  Can you remember the last time you failed at something?  What words or emotions appear to you when you recall this memory?  The thought of failure and the associated words and emotions may have left you feeling quite uncomfortable.  This could be because the idea of failure is often viewed as a negative experience. Emotions such as shame, fear, guilt, or humiliation are frequently associated with the concept.  When we experience failure, we might project feelings of inadequacy about ourselves as a person.  We may perceive that life is not going to plan and that we fall short of others expectations.  There are so many negative connotations surrounding failure that there is no wonder we try to protect ourselves at all costs from experiencing this!  But is trying to avoid failure healthy for our wellbeing?  If you have low expectations of yourself, you might always be wondering what you might have achieved.  Likewise, having unrealistically high expectations so that you will never reach your goal could be equally detrimental.

What if our perception of failure could change?  Would this help us to (ironically) become more successful?

The inventor, Thomas Edison, was famously quoted as saying,

I have not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.’

before he successfully invented the light bulb.  Thomas was not alone in viewing failure as an opportunity for feedback.  It’s fundamentally about observing what is working well and what needs to be adjusted to reach a goal…if you get the opportunity, Google famous people that have failed and it might just surprise you!  By viewing failure in a more positive mindset and confronting the fear of failure, we can become more analytical in our experiences of what works well and where we can become more focussed to improve.  Whilst resilience, determination and fortitude are deemed key personal traits of successful people, it is the realisation that if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. If something isn’t working, maybe we need to look closely at what we can control and alter our approach accordingly!

With that in mind, we might think that the old saying ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again’ may be misinterpreted as someone using the same approach to their goal and continuing to fail by not learning from their mistakes. 

The Solution

‘Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.’

Winston Churchill

Ollie coaches are able to help you find your courage by supporting you to craft your own optimistic mindset.

By working with an Ollie coach, you will be able to work with your powerful emotions to enable you to find positive solutions to your fear of failure.  In partnership, you and your coach can:

  • Use any past failure as a way of gathering feedback about what has worked well and what could be changed. Look at it as a learning opportunity to understand how you view failure and success.  Be honest with yourself.
  • Understand that fear is only a part of us and not what defines us. An Ollie Coach can support you to gently look at what it is about your relationship with failure in your past that is blocking your success for the future.
  • Work together to figure out what you are able to control and not control and use simple techniques to overcome these obstacles.
  • Be kind with the language that we use with ourselves. This can be a remarkably simple but powerful tool to use.  For instance, use a different word instead of the word failure, perhaps blip or speed bump!  Interestingly, whilst researching this article, I looked through my thesaurus at the synonyms and found words such as defeat, loss, inadequacy, decline…all words with terribly negative undertones.  Use the word that best suits the positive you!    
  • Learn to view failure as a success that was stopped too soon.

We need to learn to accept that we all come up against failure at different times and frequencies in our lives.  If we can learn to view failure as a positive learning experience, maybe we can also begin to share in more successes as a result.


Louise Benson, Ollie Coach

Louise is a fully qualified Ollie Coach and primary school teacher in the beautiful seaside town of Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire.  She has always held a fascination in how children behave and learn in their own unique way, and in helping raise awareness of children’s emotional wellbeing. Her interests include writing, crafting and supporting people to be the very best versions of themselves.

To get in contact with Louise, email