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The Secret Ingredient to Failing Forward

by | Dec 4, 2020 | Personal Growth | 0 comments

This Secret Ingredient is Essential In Failing Forward

Let’s face it.  Failing at anything sucks.  Even things that are just mini set-backs can ruin our whole day or business mojo for the rest of the week.  

I’m talking about things like:  

  • Spilling your tea latte all over your desk (like I **may** have done today)
  • Sending out an email that flops
  • Writing an ad that gets minimal or no traction 

-you get my drift.   


The thing about failing 

But the thing about failing is that:

  1.   It happens to everyone. That’s why there’s that annoying quote of: “The only people who never fail are only those who never try”- Ilka Chase (Sorry Ms. Chase but 🙄
  2.   People that bust through to success are simply people that picked themselves up again every time they ‘failed’. 

The trick of it is, after getting mud on your face and all over your fancy clothes, how do you get up with the same enthusiasm and try again? 


Say what? 

See, when we have an attitude of gratitude (sorry, could not help myself), it has been proven to make you less stressed, more open to possibilities, and all-around a more pleasant and successful person.  

This week, as we explore gratitude I’ll share some of those honest-to-god scientific studies because I know some of you are just as nerdy as I am, but most importantly, how we can develop that gratitude practice every lifestyle guru keeps shouting at us about. 


Last annoying quote

I’ll leave you with one last annoying quote that truly embodies the fact that gratitude is the secret ingredient to success.  This one is by one of the wisest women in the world, my grandma, so you know it’s absolutely one of the truest things you’ve ever heard.  

“Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted” – Arlene Cochran 

 The top 3 things I’m grateful for might surprise you 

The quote above, “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted”, is the inspiration for the list below, which is all about the top three, no-good, horrible, very bad things I’m actually thankful for.


Failing out of college

Yup. I did that.  Coming out of high school I never had to study a day in my life and still maintained honor-roll status.  I thought I was hot stuff.  Fast forward to the second half of my freshman year of college and I was struggling.  I was going to a small engineering school where everyone was brilliant and for the first time in my life, I had to study but I didn’t know how.  I ended up flunking out by the middle of my sophomore year which was muy embarrassing.  I went back to Nebraska with my tail tucked between my legs, got a job, and plotted my escape- going on to get my degree at a different engineering school that was a much better fit.   

But WHY am I grateful for failing out in the first place?   

That failure led me to a few really helpful and wonderful things.  

  1. I ended up becoming fascinated by how people learn and how brains work which helped me both when I went back to school, but also in my professional life
  2. That experience taught me what I didn’t want to do for the rest of my life and gave me the motivation to buckle down when I got a second chance. 
  3. Gave me a whole new outlook on moving past failure and the amazing people you meet when life didn’t go the way you want it to.

My split-personality childhood

My bat-sh!t crazy (BSC) mother’s idea of a good babysitter in the ’80s was either the prostitute next door (no offense to sex workers, I know many of you are perfectly lovely) and her drug-dealer boyfriend or, when I was older at the ripe old age of 7, myself.  

She was incredibly emotionally abusive and neglectful.  

Why would anyone be grateful for the kind of childhood I had?  Am I tapped in the head? 


But, I also had a wonderful mom, my grandma who raised me ½ the time even when she had to kidnap me to do it- twice. 

See, these two women taught me a master-class in life.  

Growing up in, lets just say, “less than safe” places and my BSC mom’s guidance gave me both respect for my surroundings, and the confidence to walk anywhere like I own the place. 

She also taught me a lot about how not to parent. 

My normal mom taught me how to: love unconditionally, how to work hard for what I wanted, and how to make the best damn biscuits and gravy this side of the Mason-Dixon line. 

Long story short, together they taught me to be a strong, mostly settled, and morally straight human.


 Crappy Romantic Relationships

We’ve all had ‘em, am I right? The shit boyfriends/ girlfriends/ non-binary friends. Ones that make us question our entire life choices.  Ones that make us look like crazy-people.  The ones, in short, that do not help us grow into our best selves.  By why be thankful for these?  

I knew I wanted to marry my husband by the time I was 18. 

**insert lots of romantic drama** 

He didn’t get the same memo I did until we were 24. 

But by the time we were there, we both had had relationships that taught us what we didn’t want.  So that sucked. 

But, I’m not just any girl, and this isn’t just any love story.  

Life is a giant design problem to me. I got to work engineering a framework for our relationship that would reduce the chance for failure.  

That framework has built our relationship into one that many see as “annoyingly perfect”.  While it’s not perfect, there is no one I’d rather spend my day with than the guy I live with- 15 years, 3 kids, and 3 moves later. 

Without those past crappy experiences, I would have never been driven to design our marriage’s framework, and who knows where we’d be.  I know for a fact we wouldn’t be as happy or as in love with each other as we are now. 

Gratitude can help your business. 

I don’t know about you but building my business has not always been rainbow farms and unicorn hayrides. 

Some days it’s amazing. 

On those days, I get to run a class on lean thinking, or have amazing calls with my clients that end with, “My mind is completely blown, thank you!”. 

But there are other days. 

Days that are dark and don’t want to leave the comforting embrace of my comforter because I’m 100% certain no one likes me or no one wants to hear from me and what I have to offer the world is nothing more than the basic bitch special. 

I hate those days. 

Weirdly enough, those are the days that I look my best.  To coax myself out of bed, I put on a cute dress, some red lipstick, and go out to find something nice I can do for someone else – which is one way I practice gratitude, by focusing my blessings on someone else.  

But today isn’t about me, it’s about you and how you (and your business) can benefit from your own gratitude practice.  

The list below is all backed by nerdy science stuff, so you know I’m not just blowing smoke up your patootie. 


Reduces your innermost fears- Keeps you moving forward  

Fear is what stops us from moving forward in our lives.  It stops us from putting ourselves out there, from making the offer, from delivering the best us every day.  Fear and gratefulness are really hard to hold in the same head at the same time.  Being grateful puts us in an abundant state of mind, one where we have enough and are enough, and fights off the fear that moves our brain from abundance to scarcity. – Dr. Gregory Janz, Founder of A Place of HOPE


Improves self-confidence; Increase Sales

A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increased athletes’ self-esteem, an essential component to optimal performance. This means, the stronger your gratitude practice, the better your self-esteem, the easier it is to go out there and sell yourself to clients who really need your special sauce. More confidence = more sales.  Think about it, you never buy from a desperate salesperson.  



Increases the Mental Strength that Keeps You Going 

Studies done in 2003 and 2006 and published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that gratitude was a major contributor to resilience- which we all know we need to deal with the ups and downs of running a business. Without it, we may quit before we get to the yummy good stuff of success.  


Better Decision Making

Gratitude can help you make decisions that are better for your business and life in the long term rather than just focusing on the quick wins that feel good in the moment but may screw you over long-term.  Professor Ye Li from the University of California found: 

“Showing that emotion can foster self-control and discovering a way to reduce impatience with a simple gratitude exercise opens up tremendous possibilities for reducing a wide range of societal ills from impulse buying and insufficient saving to obesity and smoking.” 

Which is basically saying gratitude helps us make better choices for our long-term happiness rather than our short-term gratification.  

Bonus benefits 

  • Gratitude towards your employees has been proven to boost their productivity by up to 50% according to a study done by the famed Wharton School. 
  • Having a gratitude practice for as little as three months has shown to reduce the aches and pains you feel and reduce the number of doctor visits overall. As an extra, extra bonus, people who kept a gratitude journal for three months also exercised more – without prompting.  At least that’s what a study done by the Universities of Miami and California has shown. 

How do you practice gratitude? Share your gratitude practice in the comments. 


With thanks,

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