Bouncing Back From Failure

There’s been lots of talk recently about failing.  We’re quick to criticize when people fail or gets things wrong.  But failing is the way to move forward.


Relaxing at Torrey Pines Beach in California.

Relaxing at Torrey Pines Beach in California.

I spent yesterday on the beach going over my content for my speech at TEDx Durham on Sunday.  Part of my speech will reflect on where I failed, where I almost quit and where I made it through.

When I was younger I spent time challenging and pushing myself, but in areas where I had a safety net.  I spent years as a team member of Team X, the National Canopy Formation Parachute Team, bumping canopies off my team mates, getting tangled in the fabric and lines and having to cut my parachute away, going back into freefall and deploying my reserve.  But that was the issue – I had a reserve.  I had a way out if something went wrong – I wouldn’t have failed.

Failure is a good thing.  I spent many years avoiding challenges because I was afraid of the possibility of failure.  If I didn’t undertake the task or the challenge then I couldn’t fail.

Eventually, I committed.  I trained hard for a challenge that was important to me, I undertook it and I failed.  I was gutted.  Completely gutted.

However, failing was the best thing that could have happened to me.  I learnt so much.  I became able to stand up straight and tall, almost proud that I had failed.  By failing in this way my fear was gone.  I learnt that it was ok to fail.  And if I didn’t fear failure the challenges I could now face were unlimited.

Failing can be tough – don’t get my wrong, I’m not encouraging you to set yourself up for failure.  But, if it happens, then it’s about how you face it.  You need to choose to learn from your failure.  If it happens, embrace it and learn from it, don’t fear it.

Step up to your challenges.  Face them with confidence and commitment.  If it doesn’t work, well that’s ok.  But at least you’ll have tried.  I, for one, would rather have tried and failed than to never have tried at all.

Question: How have you failed and how did you deal with it?

Enhanced by Zemanta
Enter Your Name and Email Below and Click


  1. Thanks
    for posting this. I am currently an AFF student. Skydiving is something
    I never thought I would be capable of doing, something I never even
    dreamt was possible. I did a tandem for my 30th birthday and afterwards
    my head said there was no way I could
    do this alone but who could give up such an amazing opportunity once
    you know how it feels to be in the sky? It seems laughable now but on
    the day of my level one I thought to myself – if I break my legs, I will
    be happy. It would be worth it. As much as I trusted myself and my
    training there was that element of the unknown. I saved up the money to
    do the rest of my course, did levels 2-6 and had no felt so
    good to fly and not to be held. I went up in the plane for level 7, got
    to altitude and I did not want to jump. This happened twice. I felt
    terrible and I still do. For me the important thing was I got kitted up
    and I got on that plane – to walk away would have been to fail. If we
    want something bad enough, if we want success we will always find a way.
    There is no rush or easy routes. I have learned that our biggest enemy
    is ourselves but we are also our own biggest champions. Like you say,
    confidence and commitment. Best of luck for the future. See you in the skies. 🙂

    • Thanks Hannah. As an experienced AFF instructor it can be all too easy to forget what it’s like for people on their early jumps. I was absolutely petrified and didn’t know if I’d actually go through with it. 7,000 jumps later I’m so glad I did. I failed on my way through and nearly quit but am so glad I stuck with it and made it.

      Thanks for the comment and so glad you made it through and are enjoying a truly amazing sport.

  2. Loving the failure thread and how to bounce back from it.

    • Thanks Elyse. Really glad you like it. I’ll be talking a bit more about this at TEDx Durham on Sunday.

%d bloggers like this: