Finding your feet after failure

Finding your feet after failure

‘Fall down 7 times stand up 8’  - this pithy Japanese proverb ‘Nana korobi ya oki’ invites us to practice resilience and self-belief. It advocates responding courageously to failure but it falls short of forecasting the outcome.

By ‘standing up’ we give ourselves the chance to turn defeat into …...something else.  While we can never be sure what this ‘something else’ will look like, there is an odds on chance it will make us wiser and better equipped to deal with whatever comes next.

In a culture obsessed with winners, failure gets bad or zero press. We rarely hear about the setbacks and dead ends that preceded and shaped the dazzling successes of our heroes. This preoccupation with winning obscures the value of losing and the lessons it can provide. 

Admittedly seeing the upside of losing when you’re feeling bruised and despondent can be tough. To help you ‘stand up’ for the eighth or eighteenth time I advocate growing your personal culture of calculated risk taking and learning from failure.

Here’s what I suggest:

Prepare for the prospect of failure – although this might sound counter intuitive as you embark on an exciting new venture, ask yourself.

What’s the worst that can happen if this doesn’t work?’

Rank the outcomes of any potential failure on a sliding scale from utter doom to mild discomfort. Will you be dead/imprisoned/jobless/insolvent/humiliated etc.? Be as succinct and accurate as possible here. This helps you to keep risks and consequences in perspective. It can also allay unnerving and often irrational fears that can derail your chances of success.

Be ready to review- once the initial shockwaves of failing subside, find forensic answers to these questions:


How was my plan?
Reviewing the hurdles and working out how you might have cleared them sets you up for a stronger performance next time.

How was my preparation?
Filling any gaps in essential but absent support will enhance your readiness and build your confidence.

How was my effort?
Analysing how smart and hard you worked to pursue this missed opportunity helps you fine tune your future efforts.

What have I learned?
Coming up with the ‘short version’ based on your other answers pins down the practicalities of what to do next.

Perhaps you need an additional skill, a better resume or stronger interview smarts, more help with childcare or housework. Work out what would make a difference and go after it.

Keep your ‘don’t know’ mind open to the possibilities of a long term win.


Sometimes a dead end springs to life unexpectedly and yields great results. A promising lead falls over then six months later the client contacts you. They loved your pitch and now they’re ready to work with you.

Success or failure can rely on things we can’t control such as timing and luck. Success after failure always calls for resilience, stamina and a clear-eyed view about what you can do differently next time.

Ready to find your feet after failing?  I can help.

By Jo Green, Career Change Coach

I know what it feels like to be lost in your career. I also know that when you find what you love, heart and soul, your life changes. I work every day with people who are reshaping their current careers, starting new enterprises or searching for a new direction. Basically I help people who don’t like their job to figure out what to do instead!

As a Careershifters and Firework Advanced Certified Coach and experienced career changer myself, I can help you figure out what fulfilling work looks like for you.

Drop me a note to organise a free 20 minute consultation to chat about your career change and how coaching could help.