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Are you a member of the Failure Club?

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.

My first attempt at an upside-down pineapple cake ended up looking like an oozing pancake and my first business thrived for only one year.

That’s okay because I went on to create 5 very successful businesses and my cakes these days could probably win a ribbon at a competition. Well, all right, I may have exaggerated the cakes winning abilities (Betty Crocker I’m not) but it all goes to show that we rarely get what we are after by succeeding the first time out of the gate.

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. 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 wasn’t the destination it was 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 had 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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Stan Grimes - Very excellent article.

Suerae Stein - “Mistakes are stepping stones to success” – I LOVE it! You have an uncanny ability to make the most out of life, even those “failures” – well done Tammy!

Rick Gualtieri - As I tell people: my goal is to be spectacular. Preferably I want to be a spectacular success. However, if I must fail then it shall be spectacularly. 🙂

Either way, nothing ventured…

Kellie - Tammy
Then I too should be wearing a BUTT LOAD of badges myself! I to have failed at an early brief marriage. I have failed at certain friendships (although) I don’t really consider those failures I consider them lessons learned. My true friendships are strong and VERY long term. I have failed at attempts to try different things in my life. There a couple of fantastic quotes in the move “Under The Tuscan Sun” by main Characters Frances & Senor Martini. I related to them regarding my life and my mistakes and my path in life.

Frances- ” Do you know the most surprising thing about divorce? It doesn’t actually kill you. Like a bullet to the heart or a head-on car wreck. It should. When someone you’ve promised to cherish till death do you part says “I never loved you,” it should kill you instantly. You shouldn’t have to wake up day after day after that, trying to understand how in the world you didn’t know. The light just never went on, you know. I must have known, of course, but I was too scared to see the truth. Then fear just makes you so stupid.”

Martini says ” Signora, between Austria and Italy, there is a section of the Alps called the Semmering. It is an impossibly steep, very high part of the mountains. They built a train track over these Alps to connect Vienna and Venice. They built these tracks even before there was a train in existence that could make the trip. They built it because they knew some day, the train would come”

Francis quote at end of movie- “Any arbitrary turning along the way and I would be else ware; I would be different. “

Tammy - Hi Stan, thanks! Happy you found your way here. I checked out your site and found some very poignant poetry there. Kudos. Appreciate the post!

Tammy - Hi Suerae, when I was younger I took ‘failure’ pretty hard. Years taught me that I was way ahead of the pack just by trying. Yup, my mistakes were indeed stepping stones to success. I can happily report I’ve enjoyed a lot of it. The lean years taught me a boatload…whether I wanted to learn it or not. Haa! Thanks for posting. So happy to hear from you!

Tammy - Hi Rick, I’m with you ALL the way! I have had more than one spectacular fail and can happily share more than one spectacular win. I figure in this game of life, it’s better to be at bat and strike out than to sit on the bleachers waiting to be called. Thanks for sharing, always great to hear from you!

Tammy - Hi Kellie, you said a mouthful there. I LOVE LOVE those quotes from Francis. Scary true. I saw and enjoyed that movie and remember it vividly. Lessons for us all. Yes, my dear, you do get badges. You entered the scuffle with a true heart and hopeful soul. You did the best you could … even when the best wasn’t good enough. That counts. We remember our failures, but our truest of friends remember our victories. Thank God for them! Thanks for sharing and posting. It, and you, are awesome!

Joan Coopr - Well…just about every decision I ever made was wrong and I made them for all the right reasons.

Where is my success? I am still waiting for it and running out of time.

Joan Cooper

Marcia - My father (very wise in his 83rd year) always says “Life wasn’t meant to be easy.” As I have “matured” (aka aged), and experienced my share of disappointment and failure, I realize just how right he is. I think what he really means is that failure is simply a part of life, and we had better get used to things not always going our way and learn how to handle it.

Did I “fail” at my marriage? No, I think not. Perhaps we failed each other, but the marriage was a learning experience for us both. (I learned more about myself in the 25 year process than I learned about him.) Success!!! Did I fail Calculus? Well, yes, but I did learn that it’s too hard for me to grasp, so it wasn’t a total bust! Success!!!

I wish the word “failure” was not part of the English language, or at least that people used it in a more positive fashion. The word seems to have a negative connotation that is undeserved. This so-called “failure” helps us to learn, to grow, and to better ourselves. Can someone tell me how that is a negative thing?

So, yes, I am a member of the Failure Club, but I would like to change the name of the club. Anyone have an idea on that?

Thank you, Tammy, for another thought-provoking article!

Tammy - Hi Miss Marcia, welcome to the Failure Club, so named until we can find another suitable replacement. You are SO right, what in the world is negative about learning, growing and being a better version of ourselves?! That is what failure teaches us, whether we want to know it or not. Perhaps we should call it “I Gave it My Best Shot” Club? I stand firm in the belief that we get big points for participating, trying, and taking a chance. I know many people who play it safe and I wish never to be included among them. And just for the record … I failed Calculus the first time around too. Nailed it my second try. Love knowing you are on the other side of my blog. Thanks for that!

Mel Glenn - Love the line, “the biggest mistake we can ever make is being to afraid to make one.” Good point. Merit badges for failures? Many of us would be decorated boy or girl scouts. I wonder if you are not being too optimistic about the rewards of failures. In hindsight, they might prove instructive, but while they are happening they are devastating and hard to endure. That said, I do admire your constant abilty to learn from your experiences.

Tammy - Hi Joan, well now you have totally depressed me. I’m sorry to hear that. I think that life teaches us big important lessons when we make wrong decisions. It’s our job to spin the teachings into the gold we deserve. I have a feeling you have a lot to be grateful for. Beauty, intelligence, compassion and friendship. Still, I’m hoping you receive the success you seek … any day now. Thanks for sharing!

Tammy - Hi Mel, yes! Merit badges for trying, for going the distance even if you didn’t “win”. Don’t you think it’s a fabulous idea? I have to agree with you, when failure slaps you in the face, you are not soon to forget the sting. It is always devastating and hard to endure. But when we come out on the other side look at how much wiser we are. It would be lovely to be able to learn life’s hard lessons without life’s hard knocks, but as we know, it is hugely unlikely. So, it’s good to know that with the knocks comes something wonderful; strength, wisdom, patience and compassion for others that have been there. Don’t get me wrong, I have never been knocked down that I didn’t cry and whine about it. Tears come with pain. But that’s all part of it. Getting up, moving on, moving up, that’s all part of it too. Thanks for the read and the post. Love the exchange of ideas!

Jane Steen - Tweeted AND Facebooked that one. I remember how crushing failures felt when I was young; and then the older I get the less important they seem. It’s one of the great advantages of gray hairs.

Tammy - Hi Jane, thanks for spreading the word. Awesome! It’s true the older we get the better we are at realizing that failure is just another way of saying “I tried”. I am prone to think that the failures we experienced in our younger years were crushing because I’m not at all sure that we believed for a minute that we could or would fail. Being naive has it’s price. Age solves that condition. So wonderful to hear from you. Thanks for the read, the post and the sharing!

SUE COVE - Great words Tammy. I thought I was a failure at one time…..but not anymore! I will always try my best in this life and no one is going to get in my way. I have had some hard knock downs….but I get back up, shake it off (by dancing around the house in my underwear!) and move on.
One day at a time…fail or not! Move on!
I sure miss you! Your forever friend, Sue

Tammy - Hi Sue, first off, thanks for being my forever friend! Secondly, I too have danced in my underwear. I had rushed downstairs after my shower in just my undies to feed the dog when the Helen Reddy song “I am Woman” came on the radio. What choice did I have but to turn it up and let it loose. It was awesome. Awesome until I got a post-it note on my door the next morning from an ‘anonymous’ neighbor asking me to make sure my shutters were closed if I was going to dance around topless. Ouch! Getting up after being knocked down is the absolute definition of success…if you ask me, and I know you didn’t. Moving on is a wonderful life game plan. You have already won the battle, my dear. Keep moving forward, and I’ll be right behind you. You forever friend who misses you too!

Stacey - I enjoyed reading this because my failure badges shine but my success badges GLISTEN AND SPARKLE!

I am reminded of the scripture from Luke 12:48(King James version)
“For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required…”
I see this as a reminder that when we are blessed enough to have rewards, we often forget that there was a shitload of work put in first.

Sometimes that work is painful, difficult, and laden with failures. In the end, the rewards are so much more appreciated when the journey was not so easy because it surely won’t be easily forgotten!

Thank you again for a really meaningful post!

Tammy - Stacey, I love how you stated your post. So very eloquent. No, true failure is never forgotten. It’s the life lesson that smacks you so hard in the face that you still feel the sting 30 years later. And thank God for that. Otherwise we would be destined to repeat it. I always tell people that my failures have helped to make me what I am today. I am grateful for every single one of them. Thanks so much for your post, Stacey. Wonderful to hear your feedback.

Gary Jordan - Good work, Tammy! As I’ve said to you before, you have more than your share of common sense. I enjoy your blog and value your friendship. Keep it up.

Mel Glenn - A very honest column that stands under the umbrella of “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” And truer words were never said that the “biggest mistake is to be afraid to make one.”
I have to remember your words when, as usual,
technology fails me, and I scared about which key to hit. Seriously, a very strong column.

Tammy - Thanks, Gary! I intend to keep it up and thank you for stopping by and sharing a comment. Means a lot. This post was posted erroneously, as I originally wrote and released it in October. I’ve had some sever problems with a blog hacker these past few weeks and this is the second time a previous post was posted NOT by me. It’s always something, isn’t it?! Thanks for being here, Gary. Love you for that!

Tammy - Hi Mel, thanks for the read and the kind words. This post was posted erroneously, as I originally wrote ad released it October. I haven’t shared it, but have been experiencing a brutal hacking of my blog these past few weeks. It is why my posts are not being released as consistently as before. Not awesome, but I think (I pray) I’ve got it contained. One must wonder why possess a person to waste their time posting on someone’s blog and manipulating the content. I can only guess the obvious: lack of intelligence and an abundance of time. Thank you, Mel, for sticking with me here. I adore you for that and appreciate the audience!

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