Salon Recap: The Other ‘F’ Word, Failure

On May 10, 2017 we welcomed over 120 people to discuss the topic of failure in our lives and work. We heard from Louisa Jewell, Founder of the Canadian Positive Psychology Association and Sarah Wells, Olympic Hurdler and Speaker. We also heard from our own Nick Kindler who provided an intimate view into his own experience with the topic.

Each speaker provided an intense, personal and often poignant view on their experiences.

Hosted by Nick, who kicked off the event by sharing personal stories that drove home the fact that failure is a gift… one that most of us are not willing to accept. But when we accept and share failure, we can all benefit from the experience.

Our first speaker, Louisa, began by sharing an amusing story from her days as a spandex-clad, big-haired child of the ‘80’s wanting desperately to succeed in an an exercise dance class—only to experience the humility and the humiliation that comes from the bumping and bumbling and not knowing the moves.

Louisa explained, “A blow to our self-esteem can damage our self-confidence. When we associate ourselves with the thing we are doing, we tie our self-esteem to the outcome.” As a result, we identify with the failure (in her case, the dance) and we begin to see ourselves as being a failure.

She gave us 3 great ways to cope:

  1. Don’t focus on looking good and instead focus on learning and growing
  2. Feel good after every effort regardless of the performance and focus on getting better
  3. Decide which internal voice you want following you around: your worst enemy or your best, most constructive friend

Olympian Sarah Wells spoke of failure through the eyes of an athlete where success is measured in fractions of a second. She related a difficult story of her trials for the World Junior Championships in Beijing where nerves and a torrential downpour kept her off her stride, resulting in a spectacular wipeout early in the race. She expressed her deep determination, drive and pursuit of success as she shared stories of her countless efforts and how she now sees each failure as simply a hurdle to overcome.

Regardless of the injuries, the weather, the mental self-talk, Sarah continues to see herself as a winner. This intense focus on what she can do instead of what she did do is what drives her forward. She left us with a poignant picture of her lying on her driveway in the fetal position crying after not qualifying for the 2016 games. She added, “Mistakes and failures are always part of the story. People are more inspired by the times I didn’t make the games than when I did.”

She points out that we need to feel the pain and the disappointment of failure and then move on and get back up. Sarah says, “So what if you didn’t get the job, your relationship ended, you experienced a poor performance review, you lost the client… Reflect and then simply GET. BACK. UP.”

We thank our two incredible speakers and all who attended. It was a wonderful night with lots of impassioned conversation. Watch for videos of both Louisa and Sarah, they will certainly be a must watch if you weren’t able to attend.

A special thank you to our generous sponsor, Mark Tinnerman of Tinnerman Wealth Group, BMO Nesbitt Burns, for helping make this night a success.

Our next Salon will be in September. Please subscribe to our newsletter to be notified when the date and topic are announced for the next Salon.

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