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Learning how to fail has taught me how to succeed

Chrissy Gruninger

Failure. Ugh. No one wants to fail. We’re told that we must succeed. We must not get fired, lose a client or fail in our business or else (fill in the “else” with your worst fear of failure). We must always be perfect in all that we do.

We worry about what others will think. What will our parents, partners, children, friends and colleagues think about us if we fail?

The experience of having my own business hasn’t always been an easy one. Along the way, some people probably thought I had lost at the game of entrepreneurship. In reality, the way I see it is I’ve actually won. I’ve succeeded because I haven’t given up. I didn’t throw in the towel. It has not been easy. It has not been a happy-at-every-moment ride into the world of working for myself. I have fallen down (and literally been pushed down) numerous times. But, every failure, fall and misstep has been totally worthwhile.

Guess what. You want to know a big secret? You are the only one who defines what success or failure means to you. Webster’s is not a good place to figure that out, nor are the expectations of anyone but yourself.

Every failure, every time my business or life hits a speed bump, I see that as a learning opportunity. I acknowledge that not every client is an ideal fit. I acknowledge there is more to understand and more to learn. I acknowledge what I did right and what I did wrong. I acknowledge what I can do better next time; because when we’re open to it, there is always a next time.

In terms of my clients, I’ve gotten super clear on who I want to associate with. Even then, even when they totally fit into every box on the checklist of my ideal client, I sometimes still find myself having to add more boxes, because indeed, not everyone is a right fit. That doesn’t mean the relationship was a failure. It simply means it wasn’t ideal for the two parties involved.

By continuously adding additional requirements on my checklist of who my ideal client is, I have more space now for my clients with whom I’m in complete alignment. I adore them. It’s no longer just about the type of business they are in but also how they work, how they present themselves and what their priorities are as well as asking the question: Do you value and respect who I am and the services I’m providing? Those aren’t always easy questions to ask, especially as it pertains to discrimination based on my gender or race but are indeed very important ones. The growth of my business and the overall contentment of my life depend on working with clients who value and respect me and believe in the services that I’m providing.

Acknowledging and growing from the failures has been a huge win for both my business and personal life. This intentional action of acknowledging who is a best fit candidate for my business allows me to create space to focus on the clients with whom I am really meant to support.

When I can do that, I feel fully alive in the work that I’m creating, and that is a huge success. I can spend my time being fully present with those who not only I love to work with but also who I am able to best serve.

In contrast, the times when I’ve worked with not-so-ideal clients, I’ve found my energy to be completely drained, sometimes even before mid-day. That wreaked havoc on both my daily life and my business with other clients.

So, every time I “fail” at something, I actually look at it as if it’s one step closer to succeeding. There is always more to be done, to learn and to grow. Each time, I believe I’ve succeeded because I was able to own what went wrong and learn from it.

My hope for you? To acknowledge that even your failures can be successes, that not everything has to be perfect and to understand that failure and growth from our missteps are a part of the journey. The destination — and definition — of success is impermanent and ever changing.

It is up to you to decide what success means for you, in both your professional and personal life. I want you to keep moving forward, to allow yourself to feel frustrated or discouraged when something doesn’t go the way you had hoped or planned but then to give yourself the space to see all that did go right, or how you will do things differently the next time around.

Failure is but a stepping stone towards the success of what I like to call a sanguine life.

Don’t let a little bump in the road stop you from doing all that you are here to do.

Share with me: What is one “failure” you can grow from and make it into a story of success?

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