What Failure Can Teach Us About Success



This week, I’m sharing content and materials on how we define failure and success.

We all have a tendency to get mired in thoughts of yes/no, win/lose, good/bad, or even succeed/fail. It’s that black & white mentality that can keep us stuck. These articles have plenty of coaching questions that will help you shift your mindset and see events in a whole new light.

When it comes to success and failure we want to turn old assumptions into new perspectives.  

This week, I’m sharing five articles that will help you see events differently, leverage your failure for future success, and embrace it as you discover your strengths.

1. Use these four questions to turn a failure into an opportunity.

There are some great coaching questions in this article from Inc. Many times we create the narrative that we’ve failed because we think we weren’t good enough. This article removes the judgement, “We weren’t good enough,” and leaves us with the statement, “We failed.” That leads us into these great questions when reflecting on what happened: What is fact vs. interpretation? Who was I during this moment? How will I prepare for what’s next? It’s a great article that goes deeper into what your answers say about how you handle the situation going forward.

2. Five steps to regain confidence after a failure.

Sometimes it’s difficult to bounce back from a failure, especially one that was deeply important. Any one of these five points from Addicted2Success will help you keep perspective. I especially like the second point. By removing your focus on what went wrong, you’re better able to see the elements that could present a solution.

3. Use failure as an opportunity to reflect on your strengths.

This article by Harvard Business Review asks the question, “What rejection did you experience that turned out for the best?” Of course, this is perspective we get in hindsight. We rarely realize that what we are losing in the moment may open the door to a better opportunity to come. The article poses the question, “Was it me, was it them, or was it us?” Sure, you can dwell in the missed opportunity or failure, but then you want to reflect on the combination of elements that may have caused your best efforts to fall flat. A change in perspective goes a long way in helping you keep your focus on what you do best.

4. A better definition of failure (and success). 

In this article by Forbes, we get the entire point of what failure is from this sentence, “Some of us won’t define [success or failure] for ourselves. We’ll let the shape of them be decided by the people and world around us.” EXACTLY! Are you measuring your success based on what others expect of you? Are you feeling like a failure because you don’t have what you thought you were supposed to have by now? Whose standards do you live by, then? Are you motivated to keep up with those around you? If so, it’s time to stop and ask yourself where you really want to be and how you really want to get there.

5. The fine line between success and failure.

This is a link to a TED playlist on failure. I was surprised to find this, yet here we are. You can listen to each talk, or you can run the entire playlist to get the full perspective from some of the most interesting TED talks on what failure means in relation to success. My favorite is the last talk by Richard St. John who speaks about his lessons from the rollercoaster ride of running his business. His conclusion is profound, “When we stop trying, we fail.”

After taking some time to think about the areas that have been challenging in your career, business, or life, ask yourself how you can turn a previously perceived failure into one of your best success stories. With a new perspective, what would that story be? Write it down. Share it with someone you trust. You could even share it with me. I’d love to know.



Christina Holloway is an executive coach and business coach. She helps executives and entrepreneurs grow their companies faster, create results-driven teams, and increase profitability. She has been featured in ForbesThe Huffington PostAddicted2Success and Fast Company. If you’re interested in working with Christina, take a look at her strategy sessions and contact her to get started.

Christina Holloway