Failure is an Option

Hi, overachiever here. I skipped third grade, went right to fourth grade and my expectations for overachievement never ended.

Setbacks (failures) were not something I dealt with very well and somewhere, over time, I realized that I was learning along the way and grew strong with the knowledge.

Here is what I have learned:

  • Life is short.
  • We cannot change what happened.
  • We can control our response to the fall out, the learning and the feedback.
  • We can control how we move forward.
  • We have the power to help others learn from their failures as well.

Here are some things that have helped me along the way:

  • Having best friends at work that I trust and can bounce things off of.
  • Reading The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success by Scott Eblin.
  • Breathing when setbacks occur and then asking, “What is the universe trying to teach me?”
  • Seeking to understand feedback I don’t like or agree with. Instead of getting defensive, I seek to understand the point – there is always a point.
  • Considering, and never underestimating, the power of communication style as a leading reason of things getting in your way. Every executive has a different way of communicating and a different style and it is up to me to adjust to them and not vice versa.

My second grade teacher told me that I pursed my lips when she scolded me. I still do it as an adult and know, from feedback, that people prefer my smile. I’ve recently started working on this and added it to my to-do list. All good overachievers have a to-do list and my list is full.

Setbacks will occur. It is how we recover that sets the course for our trajectory and course for learning and growth.

What have you learned from setbacks? What is on your to-do list?

About the Author

Debbie Brown

Debbie Brown is a Senior Sales Executive in Analytics, Software and Services . The majority of her career has been spent managing people and teams in software and services provided to the HR industry. Debbie enjoys sharing leadership best practices and as an avid reader is always happy to share great book recommendations. You can connect with Debbie on Twitter as @DebbieJBrown.


Debbie Brown

Sometimes we are just coming up a learning curve- I love when I realize that is happening- I do feel sorry for people when they cannot stop and realize that this is what is happening to them. There is so much more available to us all when we open our minds to the learning- thanks for the comment!


Yeah, they say that failure is not an option, but maybe that’s for Marines and Navy Seals. Life has its pitfalls, but it’s how you respond. I have had some epic failures and taking ownership and accepting crictism helped me to be better.


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