Is There a Benefit to Failing?

When we don’t lean into failure, mining it for lessons and for a reason it showed up in our work and life, we are left seeing failure as an obstacle, roadblock or misstep that’s regrettable.

It can cause us to shame and blame ourselves. Relationships and meaningful connections can also be affected because when we can share our failures then we can connect on a human level.

This is further exacerbated by expecting that there are “picture perfect” people, teams, families and organizations; we’re left thinking we’re falling short. But “picture perfect” does not exist. What if instead we could lean into failure and ask, “what do I need to learn? How can this build greater connections and how did failure show up in life, business, or career to serve you?”

You may be wondering how anyone could actually lean into failure. Here are four powerful ways to FLIP failure:


When we fail, although it may not be something we’ve chosen, it can help us grow, awaken and learn something that we didn’t realize we needed to learn. Honouring, noticing and acknowledging the failure is essential in order for growth and meaning to arise from it.


Fail stands for “first attempt in learning.” There’s a great quote:

“- If you fail, never give up because F.A.I.L. means “first Attempt In Learning”
– End is not the end, if fact E.N.D. means “Effort Never Dies”
– If you get No as an answer, remember N.O. means “Next Opportunity”.
So let’s be positive.”

― A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

But what about the second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth attempt? That’s when we really start to stress about our abilities or think our teams aren’t performing or even our businesses are failing. What if, on that fifth, six or maybe hundredth time, we’ve learned enough to propel our success, that it can ignite us? It’s having the grit to be able to persist despite resistance.


When we can lean into the learning, we find a passion of focus, purpose, clarity, and direction that we may not have found had we been playing it safe and not potentially risking or experiencing failure. On the other side of failure is often our greatest opportunity to meaningfully contribute to those we love, teams we work in and the communities we are part of.


The over thirty great Canadians I interviewed for my new book, were able to recognize their own greatness and the greatness all around them despite failure. Ask yourself, when was the last time you recognized yourself or somebody else despite the roadblock, obstacle or challenge you ran into? Typically, recognition is conditional, such as having to go above and beyond expectations. For example, you reach the end of a project or meet that financial target, then you get kudos. Well, what about recognizing the accomplishments along the way? Isn’t progress just as worthy of praise as the outcome?

I invite you to lean into this, and if you’re not sure, take the Failure Resiliency Quiz. Are you accepting failure or are you accusing and resisting failure in your life, work or business?

The power of leaning into and seeing the flip side allows you to flip it faster because let’s face it, it’s going to happen anyway.

“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”

– Mother Teresa

Deb Rakonjac

Organizational Development, Purolator Inc.

"Sarah nailed it!  She worked with the planning group to learn about the organization, the audience, the desired key messages and integrated it seamlessly into her keynote. Her energy was contagious! We received rave reviews of this portion of our event and Sarah was able to speak to all members of our organization in a way that motivated them to recognize others everyday. Our executives were extraordinarily pleased and integrated FROGging into their recent board meeting. Purolator is grateful to Sarah for dropping the pebble and we continue to see the ripples from this session across the organization. Working with Tami was phenomenal and the supports were easy to integrate to ensure the session went well. Thanks to you both!!"
Douglas D Swift

President & CEO, Swiftco Inc.

"I have had the Sarah experience in numerous settings: As a keynote, around a table with several other business owners, one on one over coffee, chatting with others at a conference reception, dining with a small group of colleagues. No matter the setting you always get the same Sarah: engaging, attentive, interested, inspiring, motivational, genuine. And always with an infectious smile. Do yourself, your company, your association a favour. Get the Greatness Magnified (Sarah) experience. The payback is priceless."
Judy Kucharuk

Director, Marketing and Special Events, Encana Events Centre

"Funny, full of energy and incredibly motivating – all words to use when describing Sarah and her passionate stage presence. We were fortunate to have Sarah join us as a speaker for Spark Women’s Leadership Conferences and her presentations about leveraging greatness hit the core of our objective at SPARK: “A rising tide lifts all boats”. I would not hesitate to recommend Sarah to other organizations that are searching for a well-prepared, well-organized, thoughtful and passionate storyteller."
Shelley VanVeen

Learning & Development Manager, Libro Credit Union

"Sarah brought so much energy and enthusiasm to our International Women’s Day event at Libro! Her message was uplifting, thought-provoking and truly appreciated by our team. Dealing with Sarah was wonderful – she was open, professional and willing to work with us to customize her message to incorporate our culture and connect to our topic and participants. During the session, she was a pro with a powerful message and a fantastic delivery. We had wonderful feedback from all that attended and can’t wait to have Sarah back for another session in the future!"
Sylvia D’Intino

Executive Director, Community Living Hamilton

"THANK YOU so very much for leading the engagement activities today! You’re a constant professional, with an amazing attitude and always seeing the great in everyone. I am grateful for how you have helped us this year to transform our in-person staff recognition events into virtual and on-location events. Our staff feel more inspired, appreciated and motivated after they hear you speak, and I know our amazing in-house team here looks forward to designing engaging appreciation events with your support."
Melissa Chaulk

Manager of Professional Development

Canadian Dental Hygienists Association

"We work hard at CDHA to give our members a wonderful conference experience, so we were thrilled to have received resoundingly positive feedback on Sarah's opening plenary keynote. It was the highest attended of the entire conference for both dates!"
Jamie Campbell

Director, The Center for People in Organizational Development, Sheridan College

"Smart, challenging, innovative, committed, dependable, and reliable, I highly recommend her for all your recognition needs. I have brought Sarah into my last two organizations to help build a culture of recognition and celebration. The focus on appreciation is more important now than ever."

Some of the Great Organizations We Serve