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Failing is Fabulous


Fired and then fired again (and again)

I’m a repeat fail-er. I fail often and with great variety.

I was asked to leave one school and then formally expelled from another. I couldn’t even make it in one of those ‘school without walls’ style alternatives.

I’ve been fired at least 5 times and that’s an impressive track record given I’ve mostly worked for myself.


will work for food image cut downMy first job was a graphic design apprenticeship that ended after three weeks when I repeatedly refused to do jobs I found too boring.

Next I worked at a café and was fired after a few days because I insisted on giving my friends free drinks.



Seemed Like A Great Idea At the Time

I’m pretty good at doing things that seem like a great idea at the time yet prove to be awful decisions in retrospect, for instance I lost a wonderful opportunity/job because I pointed out the boss’s faults to her face – yeah I know!

I’ve repeatedly gone in directions and made decisions that have had serious financial consequences – even to the point of losing our home. Twice. Yeah, I know!

I fail my expectations of myself on an almost daily basis and I could run on for pages here without beginning to touch on my big failures.


Even Bigger Failures

My bigger failures include:

Being horrified to find there are now so many things I wish I’d done differently as a parent.

The loss of precious friendships – at least partly because of my own attitudes and actions.

My big beautiful dream coming to a shocking end that included being locked out of the office (and being asked to turn over my computer) of the film festival I had founded and volunteered 4 years of my full time life to (I was paid part time for about ¼ of my hours in the last two years).

This dream went right down the drain and took a few relationships, my pride, my self-worth, our business, my ‘career’ and, what I thought was, my reason for living with it.


Dealing With Shit 101

What I want to know is why aren’t we taught about failing when we’re in school?

In fact, while we’re here, why aren’t we taught, as the very basics of education how to handle pain, rejection, trauma, loneliness when they are pretty much guaranteed for all of us?

I’d love to see sex education replaced with ‘Dealing with Shit’ education. Seriously – yet not because I’m anti education in that area. Think about it though, sex education is only relevant to part of the population part of the time. Shit however, that’s ever-present across ages, genders and status.

Before you freak out and tell me to think of the repercussions like STDs and teen pregnancy (oh I also did that one too, despite sex education) I want you to think of the repercussions of a society ill-equipped to handle failure and all the other pain we fragile humans deal with.

shutterstock 16 winning chessIn school I learnt to compete, to win, to excel, and all about the shame that happens when you aren’t the most popular, you don’t wear the current fashion or you fail.

What I wish I’d been taught is how to be more compassionate, how to cook healthy food, how to handle pain and rejection, relationship skills (which would also improve the sex so it’s a great alternative to sex education), and, possibly most importantly all the skills of happiness.

I’d have even like to learn how to budget, do my tax and maintain a car.

The sex stuff… mostly we do ok working it out ourselves.



Just Believe, You Can Do It

We chase our dreams – we’re told we can have everything (if we just believe and work hard) yet we’re not told that failure is an essential, critical, significant, important, crucial, vital, imperative and obligatory part of succeeding (did I use enough words to make my point?).

We’re not told that we’ll fail.

We’re not told that it’s normal.

We’re not told to expect it, let alone welcome it.

And we’re definitely not told that failing is fabulous.

We need some courses at schools and universities (and maybe in our communities) on ‘Making Failure Your Success’  or ..


How to Fail Well

GEORGIA despondant theo OPTIMISED

That’s the sort of course I really needed because I used to fail so badly – taking to my bed, wishing I was dead, too ashamed to show my head (and hereby failing at poetry as well) and giving up – both on projects and people.

I fail much better now because I’ve learned a few simple skills that have really helped (and I’ll blog about this next month) – and gratitude is one of those skills.

What’s great about these skills is that they can be whipped out in almost any situation that involves shit…. rejection, grief, bad hair day, the workplace, your relationships…. and more.






All this failure has taught me that I have a choice….


Re run this shit in my heads for days, weeks, years and come to believe that it is the whole truth about my life.

Allow what happened to slap me down, define me and predict my future.


Get back up, understanding that failure is a moment,

and allow this failure to give me every gift it has to offer.

Because the gifts are fabulous.


I’ll stop here, it’s a big subject and this blog is enough reading for one session. In the next few weeks with I write more on the topic including Gifts that Failure Brings and Failing toward Success. 

If you haven’t checked out my Hello From Toni page for July – head over there now to see a bunch of great videos to do with failure…and more.

And how about you? What wisdom and gifts have you gained from failure?

I’d love you to let me know in the comments below. Thank you for reading.

PS: If you’d like to hear from me every 4-6 weeks sign up for my Hello from Toni newsletter here.



  1. Fail FORWARD – that’s right. Fall flat on your face and not on you arse. At least when you pick yourself up you’ll be ahead of where you were instead of behind. 🙂 I’ve definitely become a wiser, kinder person because of failure.

  2. Love this Toni. It never ceases to amaze me how much we sweep ‘failing’ under the rug. It’s such an ever-present force and a reality of being human. I reckon we should all own-up to failing more often… Like depression… let’s real and there… Let’s own it and learn that it’s part of navigating life, relationships and business. The braver we are, the more we’re likely to experience it too!

    • Hey Jason, I like how you put it “such an ever-present force’ and reality. Yes and swept under the rug! Agree! I also think what you said about ‘the braver you are’ is so true – people like us get to fail more often (and often more publicly) because we do rush out to take on the world. Love what you do, keep on despite this set back.

  3. Bloody awesome and so true. I also wish school would teach life skills and yeh I have failed many times in various forms however I am know on the road to learning from each failure and to be grateful for the lessons learned.? Tina

  4. Thank you so much for this Toni – it was exactly what I needed to read today – especially from someone who I look up to!
    I’ve failed so many times but being a mum of two small kids I’m finding a whole new set of ways to fail. For some reason I thought I should be the perfect mum. So for me the gift failure is giving me is to let go of trying to be perfect, and to see the chaos and mess as a gift rather than a problem.

    • I’m so happy it was timely Carolyn. I agree being a parent adds whole new levels to possibility (and probability) of failure! There are no perfect mums.

  5. No failure, no learning, no personal growth. I always wanted to be perfect until I realized not only is that an impossible and unrealistic goal it also makes you less attractive to others and almost certanly guarantees you will constantly feel the failure of being disappointed with yourself. One of lifes gifts however is becoming a grandparent so you get a re-run to counterbalance the less than ideal decisions made under the pressure of parenting first time round. Without failure our life stories would be pretty boring I reckon. Thanks Toni for being so ‘out and proud’. Your honesty provides wonderful support for so many. To fail so flamboyantly is a true gift.

  6. I love this,Toni, we need more of this. I heard a speaker once say,he rephrases every failure as a “learning experience”. That is my new word for failure and I share that whenever I hear soembody say they failed at something.

  7. Well I feel so much better about all my failures now! I really do! I realise for all my stuff ups along life’s journey, the excelling is coming to the forefront now. Who cares that it’s taken 52 years! I’m so grateful that you’ve picked up on failures. I have learned from them, I just didn’t realise it til now! Big Grateful Thanks xx

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