Failure Log

Don’t let the internet rush you. No one is posting their failures.

I’ve had this quote saved for years and have always meant to do something with it and today is that day. This will be an ongoing log of things I’ve failed at, primarily professional or hobby-based, though knowing me, I’m sure the occasional personal story will sneak in too. Herewith, my own post of failures in the hope that it buoys your own efforts at whatever it is you’re working on. I’m starting with three (though don’t be fooled, there are many, many more!), and will keep adding as I can.

Take the deal fail: In my early 30s, I had an opportunity to sell a business I’d worked on for several years, at a not insignificant price, and let someone talk me into holding out for a better fee. In the time it took to negotiate, go through due diligence, and submit additional data justifying the price, the buyer walked away, and when it was all said and done, the business sold for $0.  // Lesson learned: Your instincts are more often than not correct. Take the deal you are satisfied with.

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Prepare, always: Early in my career, I thought about leveraging my culinary school degree to teach cooking classes. A friend set me up to teach a group of her clients through a gym she coached at. Confident in the menu I was teaching, I was foolishly worried about margins, and shopped at a deep discount store to save money. I purchased ingredients from brands I’d never cooked with—and didn’t test run any of it in my own kitchen ahead of time.

At the big show, nothing performed as I anticipated and I got flustered and served rather rare steak that everyone pushed around their plate. I immediately regretted many things: putting profit over mastering the craft to ensure what I was selling would be a hit; not working with the tools I knew so that my skillset could shine; not testing my lesson in the offsite kitchen ahead of time; and more than anything else, not owning my mistakes to the group and pretending everything was fine. // Lesson learned: Do your research ahead of time. You can’t be over prepared. If you’re awesome at what you do, the money will come. And also—it’s ok to fail in real time and own it. You’ll look stronger for it.

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Revisit your failures: No joke, I have spent more than five years working on a single essay that, at inception, I’d hoped to submit for publication to either a newspaper or literary journal or something similar. I have 15 versions of it, minimum. I haven’t looked at it in years now, certainly since Violet was born. I have beaten myself up over this particular work from the minute I started writing it. Recently, I re-read a few of the drafts and while it’s nowhere near ready for publication on this blog, let alone in print, I was struck by two things: one, the clarity of vision of certain aspects of my ideas, and two, how other bits and pieces of my thoughts have evolved beyond recognition.

I’ll keep working on it. I have no idea if it’ll ever see the light of day. I’m trying not to beat myself up about it any longer. Because: // Lesson learned: the journey is in the creation, not in the thing we make. And also—it’s not actually a failure until it’s deleted and gone.



Let this log be an homage to failures everywhere. Please feel free to share yours below.

Image Credit:

Henrik Dønnestad, via Unsplash

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