Why We Need to Hear Stories of Failure and Success

Why we need stories of failure and success

I just attended the first ever conference that combines faith + entrepreneurship called Unpolished. We were blown away each session by an all star line up that could each headline a conference in their own right.

Many of my favorite takeaways were from lessons in failing. Why? Because all of us fail at something. It could be a start up, a career, a relationship, or a performance of some sort. We’ve all had moments where we had to decide if we would allow that failure to define us or define our future.

When we fail, we are vulnerable and embarrassed. We want to present our best self, especially to those who don’t know us well, but I’ve found that my favorite people are the ones who will share their brokenness.

So what have I failed at recently? Over the summer I took a step to create a meet up as an opportunity to share an adventure with readers. The first time I tried trapeze I invited a group of ladies to join me. Some I knew well, others I barely knew at all, but all of us created an incredible memory of facing our fears that day. I wanted to give others the opportunity to experience what we shared with facing our fears together.

My biggest fear for organizing the trapeze meet up was the question “What if I throw the party and no one shows up?”

So I scheduled a date for a trapeze class and promoted it on social media. I had a few friends commit as my safety net. One of them had to drop off at the last second. On the big day there were 4 other people besides myself who showed up. I found out at the end of the class that the two of the people were not even readers but just happened to pick trapeze on that specific date because a mutual friend shared my post about it and it worked with their schedule.

I felt totally defeated. I took the risk and my fearful question came true. My friend and her daughter came out of obligation because she and I had been sharing our hearts with each other about growing some of our dreams.

That afternoon she also gave me some tough love. She told me that I didn’t fully take a risk because the classes that day would have happened either way regardless of whether we attended. She also told me that cost, timing, and that specific adventure were probably a big factor. That specific weekend was at the beginning of summer when graduation parties and weddings were at their peak.
I’ll be honest that I’ve been hesitant to try it again. I also have a hard time committing to the calendar because last minute opportunities come up pretty often and I have FOMO. (fear of missing out)

My failure doesn’t define me but it does haunt me when I think about future ideas.

During the conference, Todd Henry shared that the stories we tell ourselves define our lives.

We can make false stories personal, pervasive, and permanent.

We do that by telling ourselves – I failed here, I’ll fail there.

I failed once, I’ll always fail.
We need stories of failure because we need to know that we are not alone. We also need to remember that everything looks like failure in the middle.

“Failure is the seedbed for a different kind of opportunity.” – Jo Saxton

“Someone else had the idea but used fear vs. faith.” – Brian Tome

“The Goal of Life is not comfort, it’s conquest.”- Todd Henry

During the conference, I was reminded that one of the things that I LOVE is sharing “out of comfort zone” experiences with others. I had a few opportunities to encourage others to make a baby step toward their dreams and it was awesome to be a part of it in a small way.

I’m still processing all that I took in over those 2 days because it was A LOT to take in. Each speaker gave us a lot to chew on, filter, and apply.

The stories of failure are just as important as the success because all success has dealt with failure and overcame it in some way. The failure was part of the journey…. not where the story ended.

So how will I move forward from my perceived failure? I’m not sure yet. What I do know is that I’m not making any decisions to quit while going up the middle of my mountain. Brian Tome shared with us that we won’t know …..until we get to the top of the mountain and that we have to have the can’t quit gene. I’m not giving up until I see the view from the top of my mountain. Sometimes the view at the top is great, sometimes it’s disappointing….but you won’t know until you go!

This past year I’ve felt that one of the threads for all that I want and need to do this year is “face what intimidates.” I found this picture and put it in my dining room as a reminder to face whatever challenges I see head on and also to remind me not give up on my dreams. I feel like this image is challenging me to BRING IT! Whatever that thing is, not to runaway, but run to it.



So I’ll challenge you with this. Maybe you’ve had a dream in your heart but you’ve been paralyzed by fear of failure. It’s not a matter of when you’ll fail but how you’ll fail. Will you spend your life always wondering what your life could have been or will you get out of your comfort zone and take steps toward facing your mountain?


“Cover Bands don’t change the world. Be a Music Maker.” – Todd Henry

4 thoughts on “Why We Need to Hear Stories of Failure and Success”

  1. Nice post Nedra. Fear is one of those things that tends to bite at my toes every now and then. I have this quote on my desk to help push those fears aside. “Your desire for success has to be greater than your fear of failing.”

  2. I’ve heard it said that “Failure is the precursor to success.” I often have to remind myself that failing is just a step I have to take in order to reach my dreams. Thanks for the reminder today. I love your mountain picture!

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