Category Archives: Fail Club

A taxonomy of personal failure


Necessary failures:

  • things you weren’t ready to let go of, that needed to be released,
  • things you were striving for, but didn’t need,
  • things that were going in the wrong direction, and couldn’t turn back,
  • those heartbreaking truths you didn’t feel ready to face,
  • things that needed to be broken apart before you could put them back together,
  • “if you intend to rise from the ashes, first you have to burn”,
  • life-saving failures.

If at first you don’t succeed; experimental failures:

  • failures on purpose, to test an assumption,
  • fast, frequent failures as a method of learning,
  • worthy efforts that nonetheless didn’t create results,
  • each of Edison’s “10,000 ways that won’t work”,
  • the beautiful long shots you were betting everything on,
  • the calculated risks that were worth it for the possibility of success,
  • the attempt that didn’t quite pan out, but might be worth another try.

Dumb failures:

  • lessons you’d already learned,
  • predictable defeats,
  • those things you never really wanted, that should have been on your to-don’t list,
  • patterns of failure that you don’t learn from,
  • the failure to trust your instincts; to accept your own wisdom.

The missed opportunity of failing to be fully present.

Surface failures that cover deeper failures:

  • dropping balls because you’re too busy, because you overcommitted, because you forgot to take your own needs seriously,
  • miscommunication that talks past a deeper conflict that has never been resolved,
  • failing by default through not really trying, because of fearing failure.

& those things that can feel like failures, but aren’t:

  • imperfect offerings that are good enough for now,
  • awkwardness that is human and charming,
  • a heart that’s too wide open.


(For my friends at Fail Club. A work in progress.)