How to deal with failure

Meggz asks: I only managed to complete two of my exams at 16, which were English and Maths, and I ended up doing really badly. This was because I was battling depression and I was unable to put myself through more stress of doing it. I hadn’t gone to school since year 9 and so I was teaching myself. Have I ruined the rest of my life?

Hi Meggz –

I’m really sorry you didn’t do well on the tests. I know those subjects can be extremely hard. But my quick answer to you is No. Nope. Absolutely not. No way, no how, nopity nope nope nope.

Somewhere in this world is someone who never did badly at anything. I have never met them.

The stories of great ‘failures’ are endless. Albert Einstein failing his college entrance math exams, Michael Jordan being kicked off a basketball team for not being good enough, movie studios rejecting Fred Astaire and E.T. and all sorts of things.

But that’s not to say the tests don’t matter. They do. It all comes down to one question:

What Story Do YOU Want Your Life to Be?

Now you could decide that you’re a failure, that you’re not smart enough, that you’re simply a disaster as a student. And you could quit school and go do some job you hate, and always feel bad about yourself. And there’s nothing I can do to stop you.

Or, you could say, “This is simply not the way I see myself!” And you could double-down on the studying, and push through and take those tests again and kick their tailbones in, and end up becoming a famous writer or mathematician!

Or, the other alternative, you could say “I want to pass those tests, so I will,” study the things you didn’t get right, and get good grades on the tests when you take them – and then move on and never take another English or Maths class as long as you live, and become a successful scientist or singer or archaeologist!

And whichever way you go, part of your story will be that you did badly on those tests. But whether your story will be one of triumphing over this initial failure, or giving into it – that part is completely up to you.

But now, in case you’re wondering which way I’d like to see you go, just let me say, I didn’t catch a single squirrel for the first five years of my life. But I kept trying… and guess who the little furry-tails in my neighborhood fear the most today!!

Best of Luck,


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