Masthead header

The Most Predictable Mistress

iStock_000009385044XSmall (2)You know you want it.

It is your ultimate satisfaction, your elusive dream come true. 

It will give you everything you’ve ever wanted. All you have to do is pursue it with passion and desire. It will want you to work your fingers to the bone, sacrifice and take chances. When it rejects you, you only want it more.

Ah, sweet success; it is the most predictable mistress.  

As a writer and coach, I’ve heard a million recipes for success. Most are generalities that just make common sense; work hard, keep your eye on the goal and never give up. Good advice.

But the real secret to success is (drum roll) failure. I’ve never met a successful person who hasn’t failed at least once.  

I’ve owned 5 successful businesses in my life time. But it’s the 2 failed business ideas that taught me the most. I can still feel the sting, like a sharp slap in the face. You never quite get over your first failure. And I’m not at all sure that’s a bad thing.

I remember having a conversation with my daughter in which she remarked how courageous she thought I had been in my many careers. She marveled at my ability to try new things and succeed at them. I told her that the only difference between the two of us was that I had a lifetime of learning how to fail, and a solid resolve to get up and eventually try again. She, at the tender age of 24, had not yet been educated in the field of hard knocks.

I have no doubt that her turn is coming. At least I hope so. There will be no greater teacher and no more sure way to know that she is on the right track. If you never throw the ball, you’ll never make the hoop.

I think we try way too hard to protect our kids from failing. We give out trophies and ribbons for achievements in sports and spelling bees, badges for accomplishments and prizes for everyone. There should be a badge for people who tried like hell and failed. To come back from failure is success in itself.  

The truth is, we don’t have to wait long for life to teach us the difference between success and failure. It has a way of knocking us around until we figure out what it is we want to be when we grow up. Then it mockingly challenges us to be it.

Of course success is different for all of us and it takes on different faces as we get older. Years ago, success for me meant owning a company with 20 employees and having a big market presence. Today, success means being able to work on my own terms (which is code for working in my fuzzy bathrobe with curlers in my hair), being able to write for prestigious publications, speak at notable conferences, coach wonderfully talented people and ghostwrite amazing stories. It means doing what I love and doing it wherever I want. I push the boundaries of failure every time I walk out onto a stage, take on a new client, promote my web site, write a new book or have a new article published.

I’m not going to lie, fear of failure still plays a part in my day to day. I listen to it a lot less these days but respect it all the same. We are old friends.

Failure didn’t just plague me in my career quests. It presented itself to me when my 27 year marriage ended. That failure eventually led me to the man I know I was meant to be with. It taught me the things I needed to know to make a success of things this time around. I respect that and find myself grateful for the lesson.

I’d be curious to know what failure has done for you and to you. If your fear of it has ever stopped you from doing what you wanted to do, or if it has impacted your life, your dreams and your aspirations. Do you think it has worked for you or against you? Does it drive you on or pull you down?

I have a feeling I have a few more failures left in me. That’s okay. I will just pick myself up, dust myself off and offer to buy failure an Apple-tini at the local pub.

I figure it’s the least I can do for something that has given me so much.



Facebook Share Tweet Post Pin Post +1 Post

Mel Glenn - If success and failure are both teachers, I’d rather have success. It takes a special person, like you, to learn from failure. Usually, the down time from failure is longer than the up time for success, but you do have a good point: many famous people appreciate the journey up the mountain better than the pinnacle.

Rick Gualtieri - I often tell my students 2 things:

1) the stupidest idea realized will be infinitely more successful than a great idea you don’t do anything with

2) sometimes the worst thing you can ever do is ask your friends for advice on an idea you had.

As for me: tons of failures, followed by some successes. Failure does build character, but never giving up builds more.

Tammy - Hi Mel, I’ve come to the conclusion, in all my 60 years, that true success is not attainable without a degree of failure. I know people who have inherited buckets of money and they live a good life they mistakenly think is successful. Earning your way, fighting through the doubt, losing the battle to later win the war…that is success. YES, the journey is really the destination after all. LOVE your comment. Thank you for the read, kind sir, and for sharing.

Joan Cooper - Failure a blessing??? You are wonderful, Tammy.

Failure has left me with a weak heart, disolving nerve endings, a rebellious stomach and an altogether bad taste in my mouth. Oh yes and a hopeless feeling of inferiority!


Tammy - Rick, now is the moment when I tell you that you are brilliant! Your students are lucky ducks to have you for an instructor. Yup, failure does build character and never giving up builds more. But that kind of tenacity would never be necessary if success was an easy find. Where do I sign up for your class, Mr. Gualtieri? So happy to know you are on the other side. Thanks for that!

Rick Gualtieri - Hah, you don’t. I just handed in my notice at the school. Not enough hours in the day and something has to be cut. 🙂

Tammy - Hi Joan, I feel your pain. And, you are right, of course. When our body fails it’s a whole different ballgame. But I’m willing to bet that when you think about it, you will admit that you learned a boatload of amazing stuff when you tried and failed at something. The knowledge at the other end of the failure stick is pretty amazing. Hard to live through, but amazing. You didn’t become a success because you have always been one. As far as your heart, nerves and rebellious stomach go, let me know when you find the cure. I’m gonna need it myself. Thank you, Joan, for the read and the sharing. Love having you here!

Tammy - Rick, man, another good man down. I understand, but am feeling a bit sorrowful for the students that will be missing out. Still, hugely smart of you to know when and where to trim your day to get the living done! Kudos, my friend.

Ande Lyons - Ah Tammy… the word and experience called failure has such a bad rap. It frightens people… and prevents folks from having the most amazing experiences.

I celebrate failure. Why? Because failure is the best of teachers. It teaches us what we don’t know and what we do or don’t want in life.

Failure is also the best of personal trainers. It provides us the opportunity to build a deeper relationship with our Self… and it builds the best of muscles: tenacity, resilience, persistence and determination.

Our two sons have not been protected from failure… not just as spectators watching their parents. We always encourage our guys to stretch out of their comfort zones… and they often do. (We got them off to a good start by moving them 5 times in 9 years… including across the country and back. :o)

What is failure… really… and what is success? We had a loss in each trimester. Should we have given up? Thank goodness we didn’t let failure be a bad thing. Wasn’t easy… but we kept going and LOVE the successful outcomes! =D

I have two businesses under my tiara. Complete flops from an investor point of view. However, they were amazing adventures… phenomenal products and services that made many people very, very happy… and there were delicious periods of extraordinary success. But in the end, they didn’t make it. Are they failures?

Not all businesses have a traditional “successful outcome;” but they’re not failures, either.

My third “adventure” called Bring Back Desire is providing me with the best of times… and yes, fingers are crossed it’s a monetary success too. I don’t focus on that… I focus on the journey… if I’m meeting my needs, my family’s needs, and making the world a better place to live… life rocks!

I’m thinking we need a new name for failure … one that honors the experience of trying… creating… collaborating… and celebrates those folks who have had the courage to share their gifts with the world… no matter what.



Deborah - Failure for sure! You hit it on the nose! You may for years be a jack of all trades but then comes ” your drum roll” the ultimate master! Nice reading! Much success! God bless! <3

Jenny - My mom tells me “do the best you can with the knowledge you have”. To be failing means you don’t have to worry about things turning out perfect. Perfect gives you a tummy ache.

Kitt Crescendo - I love your view on failure. Professionally speaking, last year I “failed” for the first time. Failure gave me an opportunity to reflect on my life in a way I hadn’t had time to before. It allowed me to see more clearly how I’d shifted my priorities and my passions around (sacrificing much of what was most important to me along the way) to let my career take over. If not for that failure, I doubt I’d have had the courage to go after my passion for writing or enjoy time with family or make time for church. Thanks to this “failure” I’m singing in the church, feeling like maybe it’s not too late to start a family after all and pursuing my writing.

Tammy - Ande, I’ve often heard it said that a woman is like a tea bag. You know what she is made of when she is in hot water. The same is true for all of us. Failure has often been my finest hour and my deepest disappointment. I agree with you on every point and know from your writing that you are on the right side of it. I always said to my daughter that she didn’t need to like failure, but she needed to learn how to fail, why she did, then get past it. Like the Grinch who stole Christmas, once done, your heart grows three times as strong. You hit the nail on the head when you said that sharing our gifts with the world is courageous. Bless all the courageous ones, for they make worth the adventure. Thanks you Ande, for your amazing words of wisdom. Beyond happy to have you here!

Tammy - Hi Deborah, thanks for the kind review! Much success to you and my heartfelt thanks for the read.

Tammy - Jenny, I like your mom already. I’ve never known perfect. I have, however, known extraordinary. I’m grateful for that. Once you have flown, your eyes are forever looking towards the heavens. For it is there you once were, and where you long to be again. Story of my life in a nutshell. Tummy aches and all, failure has been very good to me. Wonderful hearing from you!!

Tammy - Hi Kit, I love your post…so inspiring! Isn’t funny how life works out? Failure always plays a big part in our life success’s. I believe that to the core. BUT, I must give you credit for viewing the glass half full. THAT, my friend, is the key: to see what is there, not what is not there. I send warm wishes your way for your happiness, success, upcoming family and pursuit of your writing gifts. You have a fan in me! Thank you, Kit, for the read and the sharing!

Stephanie - Failure is something I’ve never come to terms with. My dad would tell me that it was the best teacher. 40 years later, I see that he was right. Great post!

Nick - Great blog, found you on Twitter. Failure is a beast, plain and simple. But I think that without it, most of us wouldn’t know what success was really worth. That’s my input. I will subscribe to the WW writing. Thanks!

Patty - Hi Tamy, wow, great website! I was at your presentation yesterday and it was really, truly motivating. I get what you mean about failure, but I have known lots of people who should have failed and didn’t. I kind of think they would be better people and better bosses if they got a taste of what hardship is all about. Plese put me on your mailing list for future talks. Loved it!

Richard - I’ve been poor, and I’ve been rich. Rich is better. And I’d rather suffocate in the luxury of wealth than suffer in the pit of failure. But that’s just me!

Samantha - Hi Tammy, great to meet you yesterday! LOVE the blog and can’t wait for your book! Failure has taught me a LOT. Sometimes more than I wanted to learn. But I got the messages and I’m better for it.

Tammy - Hi Stephanie, I admit that failure is tough to like. But I have to agree with both you and your dad, it IS the best teacher around! So glad to have you hear, and thanks for the comment!

Tammy - Hi Nick, LOVE my Titter friends! Glad you found your way to me and super happy to have you on the WW bandwagon! Thanks for that!

Tammy - Hi Patty, so happy you enjoyed it. Lovely to meet all the new women in business! I agree that not everyone that enjoys success, deserves it. That’s when Karma comes in … sooner or later. You are on my mailing list and I do have some great stuff coming up in the near future. Hope to see you there! Thanks for stopping in!

Tammy - Hi Richard, hard to argue with rich vs. poor. I’d choose rich too. Finding my way to the money is easier since I’ve learned which ways NOT to go. Get my drift? That’s just me! Thanks, Richard for the read and the comment.

Tammy - Samantha, thanks for the kind review. The pleasure was all mine, I assure you. I truly appreciate the support and the positive energy. Thanks for the read and the comment.

Sharleen - Hi Tammy, thanks so much for the presentation. I signed up for your blog and LOVE, LOVE the posts already! It was really great to meet you and the next time you are in town, the offer still holds. This is a great post…it really hits home for me. I spend more time thinking of reasons why I can’t do something instead of just trying to do it. I know it’s because I don’t want to fail at it. When you put it in perspective, its really ridiculous, isn’t it?

Jimbo - I get what you’re saying and I understand where youre going, but the fact is that if I can avoid failing, I will!

Danielle - I’m still waiting for failure to teach me anything other than how much it sucks. I’ve yet to learn a life lesson and I am now on my second divorce. I’d love to believe you but life shows me different.

Tammy - Sharleen, thanks for that invite, appreciate the kindness behind it. I will be in town again shortly, I’m sure. (fingers crossed) Procrastination and avoidance is the biggest casualty of fearing failure. I’m thinking that you will never swim if you don’t jump in the water. Come on in….the water is great! Lovely meeting you and thank you for being here!

Tammy - Jimbo, I understand and I agree…to an extent. The problem is by avoiding failure we often avoid the opportunities that are given to us to succeed. Something to think about. Appreciate the read and the comment!

Christine - What a fantastic way to look at failure!! It is indeed a great teacher, and because you’ve lost some of your fear of it, it can’t hold you hostage. Nice!

Tammy - Christine, thanks for the kind review! And just so we are clear, I have not lost my fear of it, quite the contrary. I fear failure with the best of them. As a matter of fact, I hate it. BUT, I would be unfair to myself if I didn’t admit that it was in the failing of things that I found the success I was working for. And THAT is an awesome place to be. So happy you are on the other side of my blog. So appreciate the comment.

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *



CommentLuv badge

F a c e b o o k
T w i t t e r
L i n k e d I n
M o r e   i n f o