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Are you a failure?

I am. Well, at least I’ve had my turn up at bat and the game isn’t over yet.

Yup, I’ve been a failure many times over.

The way life is set up; we are bound to fail at points along the way. If we don’t, we aren’t trying new things or taking chances.

I love a good risk. Doing something I’ve never done before, being someone I’ve never been before. What a rush. If you’re on the right track, the outcome is awesome. If you’re not, you fail.

I think there should be badges for failure. I don’t know about you, but I’d wear them proudly. A badge for that business I started that failed, for that marriage I worked on for over 25 years that failed, for that friendship that went sour and failed. My badges would show that I tried, that I went out on a limb and gave it my best shot and I endured the loss. I think we should get points for that.

I’ve always thought that mistakes were mini failures. Turns out they are just stepping stones to success. If it weren’t for my life’s mistakes I would have learned nothing. Some lessons were pretty painful to recover from but all were worth learning. Of course, I didn’t take these life lessons without considerable whining coupled with a good dose of self doubt and a pinch of “what was I thinking?” (Fudge brownies helped the healing process). It all works out in the end.

I think that the biggest mistake we can ever make is being too afraid to make one. Life takes courage (and all this time I thought all I had to do was show up). Without courage we would not know love, life, success or failure. What’s the point of that? As it turns out; success is just failure that’s run its course.  I wish someone had told me that about 30 years ago.

When it comes to failing, it seems we are all in good company. Walt Disney’s first cartoon production company, Laugh-O-Gram, went bankrupt. Ulysses S. Grant failed as a farmer, a real estate agent, a U.S. Customs official and a store clerk. Bill Cosby dropped out of high school and worked in a shoe repair shop and car muffler plant. And Barbara Walters was told in 1957 by Don Hewitt, who became executive producer of 60 Minutes, to stay out of television.

I figure that failure breeds success. It’s the law of averages really. The more times you try, the more likely you will succeed.

These days my fear of failure looms a little larger. I’m a lot smarter at the age of 58 but I have a lot more to lose and a lot less time to get it back. I’m still out there taking chances but they are more calculated and thoroughly thought out. Of course they wouldn’t call it ‘risk’ if there weren’t any. So, I do my best and hold my breath.

Whoever said that it isn’t the destination it’s the journey, is brilliant. I’d love to meet this person and kiss them on the lips. What a revelation.

All I can tell you is that 20 years from now I want to be sitting in my rocking chair reminiscing about all the ventures I tried, all the chances I took, all the tears I shed and all the laughter I shared. I sure as hell don’t want to sit there and wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t given it a shot.

And by the way, I’ll be wearing my badges of failure in that rocking chair and I’ll be damn proud of every one of them.


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Joan Cooper - You are so mellow. I cannot imagine finding a happy ending for even a tiny failure. I do not forgive my failures. Of course, I am older than you and I should have learned by now. But alas, I still make mistakes.

You give me hope though.

Suerae Stein - I didn’t think people were supposed to be so wise before the age of 70. How you manage such wisdom at 58 is inspirational. You are wise beyond your years and I am grateful that you share it with the rest of us. 🙂

Eileen - I’ve been enjoying your writings for some time and felt it was about time to let you know how much. You’re insights, humor, and willingness to share even some of the most personal things are truly wonderful.
So much of what you talk about are things I can honestly relate to, but I’m not sure I could so honestly address them. Thanks for doing this for those of us who don’t have the wit or nerve to do it!

Tammy - Joan, gee, I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, but mellow has never been one of them. Thanks for that. I must share with you that forgiving yourself is paramount. Whatever you need forgiveness for; I hope you find your way clear to do it. We need to be our own best friends (a dirty job but somebody’s got to do it). I hope you do keep making mistakes. I know that I sure do. It means we are still out there plugging along, trying new ways and new things. It’s all good. I shall remain hopeful for the both of us. Thanks for posting!

Tammy - Suerae, if I have any wisdom on this subject it’s because I’ve had my share of failures. I’m so very happy to be even a hint of inspiration. I figure I should always share what I’ve learned and hope that people will do the same for me. My failures have shown me a good amount of success. Without them I wouldn’t be where I am today. Color me grateful. Thanks for being here!

Tammy - Eileen, What a wonderful post, thank you! I’m happy you’ve been enjoying the reads. Isn’t it amazing how much we all have in common? You’re right, I share pretty openly and with wild abandon. Goodness knows I should probably have a bit more decorum. I guess I figure that at this stage of my life, it is what it is. I’m very happy to have you on the other side of my posts and hope you will share again some time. Love hearing from you and thanks for reading!

Carmen - We all have had life experiences that we can view as positive or negative. That been said it does not mean they are failures. They are life opportunities (that not everyone gets to experience in the full sense of the word, or that everyone learns from). There is a saying “the best school we can have is the school of hard knocks — I would like to call it the school of experience, provided we learn from these experiences. The beauty of these experiences is that we can share these experiences with others. What a great feeling!
You are an incredible success story and perhaps you would not be the person you are without all these experiences.
Keep up the great insperational articles you produce…it makes alot of us dig deep into ourselves! Thank you.

Marie - Great post, Tammy. We are taught so strongly to fear failure as children that, as adults, we become afraid to try new things for that fear of failing. It wasn’t until I really looked at failing and recognized it for the learning experience it is, that I have finally felt like I am moving toward success and freedom.

Laura Lee Carter aka the Midlife Crisis Queen - Words to live by…

“You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” -Wayne Gretzky

Tammy - Laure Lee, And let us say .. Amen!

Tammy - Marie, damn good for you, girl! Isn’t it sad that these are lessons we learn so late in life? I mean, I sure could have used all this info when I was in my 20’s. But then again, try sharing it with a 20 year old and see how far you get. It is perhaps something that is suitably learned with age. Thanks for posting, great having you here!

Tammy - Carmen, I think that by the age of 58 if I hadn’t been to the school of hard knocks I would have to have been living under a rock. Life does have a way of knocking us around ready or not. You’re right, I absolutely would not be who I am if not for all of my failures (experience). I’m sure I still have some in store for me. I can’t lie; I never look forward to those teachable moments but I take what I can get from them. And you, Carmen have shared some teachable stuff with us here. Thanks for posting, wonderful having you on the other side of my blog.

Dede - I don’t think that trying something that does not work is a failure. Having the courage to do so is harder sometimes than doing nothing.
I have had to take a step back many times and keep pushing forward. Our own fears often keep us from succeeding or accomplishing what could be our greatest moments.

Lee Lefton - I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You never cease to impress and inspire me. I would NEVER describe anything you’ve done in the nearly 30 years we’ve been friends as a failure. You, my dear, have always had the courage to step out of your comfort zone and take those leaps of faith. Some of them have been quite successful. Others simply didn’t pan out as hoped for. (Wrong timing. Market situations. Whatever). But no one could ever say that you didn’t give your everything to everything you tried. And I see you continuing to do so. So I take real issue with the first two words of this post. NO. YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE! Take that from someone who has always loved you and always will. As a short addendum and inside joke: Omelet boy blew it bigtime.

Shirlene - I agree wholeheartedly with you Tammy. My life motto has always been….” It is NO unless you ask and If you fail to try something , then yes you have failed. Our failures seem to give us the most wisdom!

Tammy - Shirlene, on the same page as usual. Wisdom gained by failure is wisdom well earned. Thanks for posting!

Tammy - Lee, I’m certainly no failure in the ‘friend department’; having you in my corner and in my ear means everything to me. Has it been 30 years? Oh my … we ARE old! Venturing out of my comfort zone has yet to get easy. I’m not sure why I still try, but thanks for noticing. As Thomas Edison once said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. As so, we plug along, don’t we, my friend? It’s the journey and I’m so very happy you are along for the read while I make my way. Thanks for being here. Oh, and I’m still LMAO over omelet boy!! *snicker-snort* Love you too!

Tammy - Dede, Life does sometimes feel like two steps forward, one step back. At least we are going in the right direction. At times, my ideas wait for my courage to catch up. It always does. Thanks for posting, great having you here.

Kellie - Tammy great blog post. Well as my mom tells me, nothing is a failure if you at least attempt it. Since moving to the desert I have kept this in mind and it has served me well…as you know on my NEW adventures. Of course I have never been one to be afraid to attempt new things on my own. So I fail, so what? do I care what people think, NEVER have!

Tammy - Kellie, you are way ahead of the game, girl. I have never really cared what other people think of me (thank God), but it has not alleviated me from the occasional fear of failure. The good news is that it never stopped me. The bad news is, there were times it should have. Thanks for posting, great having you here!

kellie kennedy - Oh girl I know what you mean, but I figure all my good friends already know I am an idiot half the time …so what’s the harm! LOL!

Shahzad - Your perspective on failure is truly inspiring! Embracing failure as a stepping stone to success and wearing those “badges” proudly is a powerful outlook. Your journey and wisdom are a testament to the importance of taking chances and living life fully. Keep rocking those challenges!

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