Reframing Failure & Accepting Fate

Today I’m grateful for failure. 

Whaaat? I hear you ask. Let me explain…


It’s our 30th wedding anniversary today. It’s a small miracle…not the fact we’ve stayed married for so long, but the magic that lead us to each other in the first place. 


So, 30 years ago we said ‘I do’. Eight years previously we started dating. 


But this only came about because Pete failed to achieve the required grade in one of his A levels, so he returned to sixth form to re-sit, joining my year as we moved to upper sixth.  And he finally caught my eye! It turns out he’d been trying to get me to notice him throughout the previous year, but I was otherwise occupied with another guy! 


After a great year together we sat our A levels and this time it was my turn to ‘fail’. I didn’t achieve the grades for my first choice of medical school, instead ending up at Liverpool, where Pete was also going (to study dentistry). 


Without those two ‘failures’ our paths would probably not have crossed, nor progressed together side by side. 


Fate, Lady Luck, the Divine, the Universe – call it what you will, I believe there is a plan sketched out for all of us. At first it may not appear to be what we had in mind. It may seem that life is treating us badly and we might feel we don’t deserve what happens to us. 


But what if we could be open to new possibilities? Yes, acknowledge they’re different to what we were expecting, but accept they could be just as (or even more) powerful, exciting and just RIGHT?


Perhaps Pete felt the tap on his shoulder and the whispered message, “You’ve got another chance with that girl. Don’t waste it this time!” Despite the disappointment and shame he was feeling about the exam results, he acknowledged the possibility open to him and he took action. 


When I found out I was going to my second choice university, Liverpool, my attitude was, “well at least I’ll know somebody when I get there”. A bit flippant really when I look back, but obviously we weren’t madly in love at that stage. I really, really liked him, but at 18 and 19 years old, we didn’t imagine we’d found our life partners. 


Yet fate brought us together and kept us together. 


We’ve relayed this story over the years to stress to our daughters that sometimes life takes a different turn than they’d anticipated. For example, it’s been especially important for our high-achieving, perfectionist girls to recognise that top exam results won’t always be attained. They’ve learned to accept that some things happen for a reason. It may be inexplicable at the time and it may go against what they’d hoped for, but if they can be open and accepting maybe their own magic and miracles can happen. 


Life isn’t an upward linear path. It takes twists and turns, it doubles back on itself and it sometimes takes off at a tangent you wouldn’t expect. 


There are setbacks in every success story. (Just look up various sporting legends and famous global business CEO’s). But it’s how you view the setback that counts. Are you going to let it defeat you or are you going to look it in the eye and ask some useful questions? 


  • What is the reason for this? 
  • What’s the meaning? 
  • What can I learn? 
  • What can I do differently?


And if you can reframe failure as opportunity and if you listen to the whisper from Fate, what magic and miracles could you create? 


Wishing you every success, no matter how you get there, Jo


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