productive failure

“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. It is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead-end street.” ~William A. Ward

I have had recent bike workouts that have had me thinking about failure…A LOT! I have posted about it briefly in Instagram, but wanted to share my expanded thinking about it. Here are some of the thoughts I have had while riding:

  • if I throw in the towel and quit, then I won’t fail this interval
  • if I quit now, I will never know what I was really capable of
  • so you failed that interval, show up for the next one and keep fighting
  • I will learn more from failure than I will from success
  • just because you fail one interval doesn’t mean you’ll fail it the next time
  • failing builds resilience
  • failure is the road to success

I’m working to reframe my thinking…if I am giving everything I have and fail, BUT learn from my failure, this is GOOD…it is PRODUCTIVE FAILURE! In order to achieve success and turn my dreams into a reality, I need to pass through failure. I’d rather try my best and fail than not try at all. So why do we fear failure? Where did that fear start? Why do we let fear have control over us? I am reminding myself daily to take action in spite of my fears. Are you letting fear in the drivers seat? Do you blame fear when you make excuses for how you preformed? Fear can be protective and keep us out of harms way, but it can also be a road block for becoming the best version of ourselves and achieving our dreams. Experiencing fear and moving through it is how we build courage and resilience. It is how we reach our potential. It is how we grow and become our best selves.

Fearing failure is letting the bubbles that carry your dreams pop before they are given the opportunity to turn into a reality. I’m choosing to dream BIG so I can grow into the best version of myself. If I fail along the way, I will learn and grow. This is PRODUCTIVE FAILURE and is NOT something I want to fear. Productive failure is the key to making progress and we shouldn’t avoid it just because it makes us uncomfortable. We should lean into it because this is where the magic happens!

I’m choosing courage over comfort as I acknowledge my fears and move through them! I’m choosing to listen to my dreams and not the naysayers! I’m choosing to chase my dreams with intention! I’m choosing to follow my dreams even if that means I have to overcome fears along the way! I am choosing productive failure! I’m choosing to grow into my best self! I’m choosing to dream BIG!

Productive Failure…I’d rather try my best and fail, than not try at all. So what if I fall short of my expectations as long as I’ve given my all. This is failing productively. This is where we learn. This is how we get stronger. This is where we grow. This is where we move from the uncomfortable a little closer to the comfortable. This is where the magic happens! Keep failing, but fail productively!

“F” words no athlete should be afraid of…

I just crossed the finish line of a VERY FULL and BUSY week…teaching 8th grader science all day followed by parent teacher conferences until 7 pm Monday-Wednesday, followed by another round of parent teacher conferences Thursday morning until noon (54 conferences in all…less than half of my students).  My conversations with parents and students, sparked my thoughts about “failure.”  I shared my view of failure with some parents and students…

You have only failed if you didn’t learn something along the way and you stopped trying to get better.


My view of failure doesn’t just apply to 8th grade science, but to life and sport.  As an athlete, there are some very prominent “F” words that show up from time to time.  I do my best to change my thinking from the negative connotation that these “F” words can have to a much more positive outlook when they appear.  How can these “F” words help me be a better athlete?!?!?

Fear…Many people have anxiety when they allow fear to enter their domain.  However, fear doesn’t seem to cause me anxiety.  I view fear as a challenge for me to become better.  When I stop and look fear head on, I become strong, courageous, confident, powerful and in control of my domain.

Failure…For me, fear and failure can go hand-in-hand.  On race day, I sometimes experience the “fear of failure,” so I have to keep reminding myself of the following:  as long as I learn something and keep trying to become better, I am not failing.


Frustration…I only become frustrated when I don’t meet the expectations I have set for myself.  I am learning to adjust these expectations to help reduce the amount of frustration that I feel, but for a very goal-oriented person with high standards, adjusting expectations can be a challenge.  Luckily I have never been one to shy away from a challenge 🙂

What negative “F” words do you encounter that you are trying to twist into a positive???