Fail Up. It’s a Better Kind of F’up.

When we replace “Why is this happening to me?” with “What is this teaching me?” everything shifts.

Photo by wildpixel from Getty Images Pro

If we want to build resilience, we have to invite and celebrate constructive criticism. It’s not an indictment of our character. It allows us to fail well.

What failure led to one of YOUR favourite breakthroughs?

We all have a story. Mine started with my relationship with money. Years ago, as a young social impact entrepreneur, I brought my Better World Scout heart to a service space without knowing how to monetize it. Of course, it wasn’t sustainable. I’d spent so long helping at-risk women and children that I found it really difficult to adopt a for-profit mindset. I drowned in too much blue sky thinking without an economically viable roadmap. Social impact without a sustainable revenue model = the death of a business! You can’t be of use to others if you do it at your own peril.

There were mentors that did their best to help me, but I didn’t listen. I saw the focus on the almighty buck as a barrier to helping the people I most wanted to serve. I was so entrenched in the “poverty mindset” that I couldn’t see beyond my own bias. I thought they just didn’t understand. Turns out the failure was mine. It was also one of the most valuable lessons of my career.

While I felt the loss deeply, it gave me the chance to examine the take-aways in a manner that helped me reinvent on solid ground. When I stepped back up to the plate, my mentors were generous and generative, helping me explore opportunities I hadn’t considered. Ones that allowed me to serve the people I wanted to empower with a viable revenue model that didn’t sacrifice my goals and values.

“Appreciative Inquiry” allowed these titans of industry to reform both my bleeding heart and the bleeding bottom line. It’s based on strengths, idea generation and new ways of exploring together. It’s grounded in asking probing questions with the intention of creating stronger bonds between you and finding a path to sustainable change. Appreciative Inquiry helped us find the common ground between a for-profit world and the not-for-profit at a time when social enterprise was still just a twinkle in someone’s eye.

It’s also at the root of the two questions that guide my purpose and approach both in my personal life and in business today: “What works?” and “How can we do more of that?”

Breakdowns can lead to breakthroughs when we use them right.

Sue Braiden.

What failure resulted in a significant pivot or moment of truth in your own path?

Thanks for putting your elbows on the digital kitchen table with me! If this resonates with you and you think it might be of use to others, please share and invite them to tuck a few thoughts into the comments along with your own. I’d love to hear about YOUR breakthroughs. What failure resulted in a significant pivot or moment of truth in your own path? Let’s talk …

About the Author

Sue Braiden — Solutions Journalist & Better World Technologist
Sue Braiden — Solutions Journalist & Better World Technologist

I’m a Solutions Journalist and Better World Technologist pivoting to a portfolio career while kicking cancer’s butt for the second time!

Having spent more than 35 years as a social impact tech pioneer, I’m reinventing. I’m leaning in on the lessons I learned serving locally as a CBC Radio Computer Columnist and mentor working with at-risk women and children, to globally through servant leadership as the North American Vice-Chair for UNESCO’s efforts to keep kids safer online and community sustainability projects in Africa.

Now living with metastatic cancer, I’m building a portfolio career based on my deep love of storytelling as a vehicle for change while indulging in a lifelong love of creating jewerly, music and art. The gifts of cancer in Act 2 are many! You get clear about the importance of bringing your whole self to work, the power of Joy Experiments and the privilege of reinventing even later in life.

Having spent much of the past 2 decades as a remote worker building and leveraging online community experiences, I feel incredibly empowered as I step into this reboot and am looking forward to connecting with other entrepreneurs at this digital kitchen table.

You can also connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram or by visiting my website.

Why not say “Hi!” in the comments below? 👇🏻



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Sue Braiden

Sue Braiden

Solutions Journalist and Better World Technologist. Superpowers ▶ Asking 2 questions: 1) What works? and 2) How can we do more of that?