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How to fail your way to success

Updated: May 8


I try and write something on LinkedIn most days.

What I write is often prompted by my client work and what comes up in supervision.  The LinkedIn responses I get confirm yes, there truly is a lot of self doubt out there.Sometimes it's that we take ourselves way too seriously. Often, it's to do with the fear of failure we've developed in childhood that freezes us into inaction.

Let's face it, schools aren't big on rewarding mistakes!It’s ok not to be perfect and, as Rev Robert Schuller famously said, ‘It’s better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing perfectly.’ We are all human; we have vulnerabilities and we all probably need to be just a bit more forgiving of ourselves. That noisy inner critic can paralyse us with fear of getting it wrong but if you never fail, let's face it, you’re not really trying hard enough.No one grows in the comfort zone.Try this:

  • Take risks, fail often, fail big.

  • Reframe failures as evidence of growth.

  • Understand there are no failures…only feedback!


I asked someone to improve my website recently. The one I have is designed by me on Wix.But, when I saw the designer's draft I hated it. It didn't feel like my site anymore and looked like most of the other sites out there. So I decided to stick with mine and reframe it as 'perfectly imperfect'... just like me!Perhaps it's time to take the risk of getting it wrong, be less than perfect and tell yourself a different story. You might just discover that, when you lose your fear of failure, anything is possible!

Do you wish you had more confidence and self esteem?Are you successful on the outside, but harbouring a scary feeling that one day someone will find out you’re not as good as you seem to be?Perhaps you just need to change the story you are telling yourself about who you are.


As a psychotherapist and coach I tell stories all the time. We all do. Our inner world is made up of the stories we have heard all our lives. Since man could speak, we have tried to communicate our experiences to one another, relaying tips and tools and wisdom about how to live and how to survive.For us, it begins in childhood with fables and fairy tales and family anecdotes.

Through these stories, we come to ‘understand’ our family, our culture, our society, its rules and morals. From our parents, we begin to form a picture of who we are and what is expected of us. The baby looks into its mother’s eyes and tries to locate itself in the world, creating the beginnings of an identity or self image.

Our role in the family drama

What role was allotted to you in your family drama?

Family life can feel like a soap opera. Truth is often stranger than the fiction you see on Eastenders or Coronation Street. The story of your family and your place within it can result in labels and stereotypes which begin to restrict and confine you in many unhelpful ways.Were you the ‘good girl’ the ‘naughty boy’, the ‘joker’, or the ‘weirdo?’

The patterns of relating we develop in the family often become the template for how we live our life and relate to others, and we often unconsciously repeat these patterns in the other groups such as friendship and workgroups.If your ‘template’ works for you, that’s fine. It probably means you experienced plenty of unconditional love as a child and had the freedom and support to grow and flourish and develop a positive self image.If not, you might want to change your story about the person you really are. As Irish author J H Brennan said ‘You grow up, but your self image doesn’t!’

Let go of the labels

The most powerful stories are the ones we continue to tell ourselves.Think carefully about the ‘labels’ hung on you by others and think carefully about the ones you continue to hang on yourself. The chances are they are false and they are affecting your life every single day.

By identifying your labels, you bring them into your awareness.

You begin to have power over them.

And once you’ve identified them, it becomes easier to just let them go.

Try this:

• Write down all the labels which have been hung on you by others, perhaps by parents, teachers, friends, enemies, colleagues or others.

• How many of these are unhelpful, hurtful or self limiting? How many of these would you like to let go of?

• Transfer them onto post-it notes.

• Now stick them onto a photo of yourself, or a picture which represents you.

• Make a decision which ones need to go and remove them. Destroy them or throw them in a bin. You don’t need them anymore.

• Now write out the labels you want, the ones which say something about the person you really are and the person you want to be.

• Keep this picture somewhere you can see it every day.

Isn't it time to take responsibility for your own happiness and self esteem and mature into your own identity? It’s your life and your drama after all.

You are the scriptwriter and the pen is in your hand. What story do you want to tell about who you are and who you will become?And remember, if your story hasn't got a happy ending, then it’s not the ending…Yet 

The 2024 Diploma is full but you can still access the NCFE accredited Skills Certificate at the reduced price of £455 which is deductible from the cost of the Diploma should you later enrol.Follow this link for immediate purchase of your Skills Workbook.

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