motivator-failure
Creative Commons License photo credit: leoniewise

What do these people have in common: J.K. Rowling, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Winston Churchill, Michael Jordan, Walt Disney, and Henry Ford? Besides being household names, these are only a handful of extremely successful people who credit FAILURE with making them achieve greatness.  Yep, failure.

So what, you may ask, does this have to do with health and weight loss? Simply this: The theories and practice of accepting failure can actually contain the seeds of success when it comes to transforming your health and body. This is because failure, scientists are learning, seems to be hardwired in the brain to equal learning–the more wrong we are, the quicker we learn. By utilizing this understanding, we can actually temper ourselves to setbacks and get the most out of them. Here are a few things that failure teaches us:

  • Resiliency: Simply put, the more we fail, the more we understand that we are always a work in progress and nothing about our lives is fixed in stone–this includes our bodies, the way we eat, and the way we look. This gives us incredible freedom to change.  Instead of beating ourselves up every time we slip up with our diet or because we didn’t know something about what makes us healthy, we see it as a learning opportunity. And the more we learn about ourselves, the more we know in the future what will and won’t work for us.  For our brains, failure is all about making our thinking more efficient. So you will learn that eating every three hours doesn’t work for you and move on, each time getting closer to the real changes that will transform your health.
  • Opportunity: Successful people are people who have put themselves out there and tried whatever they could get there hands on. They are not more talented, or smarter, or luckier than anybody else–they have simply tried more and different things until something worked. They aren’t afraid of failure, of falling down. They know how to get back up. Apply this to your own life–what would you try if you were not  afraid of failing?  Just take the example of exercise. We know that it is one of the most important lifestyle choices in being healthy, but it isn’t always easy to find the perfect sport or activity. For those of us who aren’t afraid of failing, trying everything is seen as an opportunity–so get out there and try it–run, bicycle, do aerobics, swim, yoga, rock climb and find what you are passionate about. It’s out there just waiting to transform your life.
  • Perspective: Finally, becoming fearless in the face of failure gives us perspective, that is, where we are now is tempered by where we have been and that has the amazing ability of putting our fears, our cravings, and our emotions in their proper place. Perspective soothes our anxieties; it calms us. And when we are calm our emotions cease to rule us.  We know that if we slip up and eat junk food we are not bad people, we are simply having an off day and we can recommit ourselves the next day. If we go two weeks without exercising we don’t throw in the towel, we shrug, love ourselves, and get out there at the next opportunity. Perspective allows us to understand that our lives are made up of a million small moments, that we will always fall down, and that it is the getting up that is important, the constant getting back up that makes the difference between an average life and one that is extraordinary.

I have not failed
Creative Commons License photo credit: genome4hire

When embracing your own ability and need to fail, think about how children learn. Take running, for example. We are not born with the ability to run, we learn it slowly. First we learn to roll over, then we learn to push ourselves up, then crawl, then stand, then walk, and finally run. Throughout this whole process, we fall down over and over again and over and over again we stand back up and we keep falling now and again throughout our whole lives.  So let’s keep the perseverence and innocence of children in everything we do and be willing to put ourselves out there because that is how we learn, always.


  1. I couldn’t agree more with your post!

    I found your blog through my brother’s site at back to the fridge!

    It’s hard to lose weight, but you just have to keep going and do the best you can!

    Comment by Jenn@slim-shoppin — May 21, 2009 @ 11:24 am

  2. Great blog, glad I found you through the comment on my page :). This entry reminds me of something I saw on Oprah and never forgot. There is a difference between successful dieters and unsuccessful ones. We all have setbacks, that is inevitable, and one must accept that you WILL have what I like to call “a piggy” but the ones who are a success go back on the wagon, while the others keep spiralling down. So basically, its like you said, there are failures, loads, but you have to keep going or you will never achieve success.

    Comment by Heavenly Housewife — June 2, 2009 @ 11:35 am