I’m A Failure: My Path To Resilience

Here is a guest blog article from my friend and coaching mentor Ian Hatton. Ian is a coach, facilitator, speaker, and writer at www.totally-ian.com. In his human potential workshops, he has an informal and highly interactive style. He conducts energy, connects, stimulates, challenges and inspires. Ian is based in Cape Town, South Africa, and works with individuals, teams and organisations around the world.



Hi, I’m Ian and I’m a failure. I have failed in pretty much every area of my life. Business. Divorce (twice!). Health. Underachievement. So many disappointments. So much self-doubt. So much judgement. I’m delighted about this. Well, at least I am now. These things have contributed to who I am. I’m stronger. More real. More present. More connected. More centred. More confident. More vulnerable. More courageous. More me.

Failure taught me to accept myself as I am

A sense of being accepted has been one of my deepest desires. The nagging doubt that it was not ok to be me has haunted me on my journey. It took forever for me to realise no amount of acceptance by others would fix this. Prompted by a friend, it hit me. The only person that mattered in my life that didn’t accept me was me!

So in 2012 I arranged my own initiation, a series of coming of age events – at the age of 49! All geared around listening to my closest connections. Letting their words sink in. And most importantly listening to myself, my essence, my heart. I am what I am. It’s enough.

Failure taught me the importance of being real

I have a bad habit of self-promoting. Trying to make myself look good. It feels empty. As if I can’t just be me. One example is in training facilitation. I strive to be the expert, try to be impressively right, evaluation scores that boast. Devastated if I failed.

Not anymore. I discovered that what I more deeply desire is sustainable change. Demonstrating vulnerability is much more effective than scores. Navigating through mistakes imparts significantly deeper life and leadership skills than being right does. Life isn’t about being right. Neither is leadership. It’s about influence. It’s about demonstrating humanity. It’s about being authentic.

Failure taught me to be present in the present

I used to live by a code. I call it the lotto mentality. One day when I have lost weight. One day when I’m less imperfect. One day when I win the lottery. Except, those one days don’t come. Not without first doing work now.

So in my struggles I learned a bit about mindfulness. Then visualisation. Then meditation. Small steps at first. Then the big leap of a 10 day course. I’m still a beginner. However I’m learning that one day doesn’t exist. Only now does. It’s real. It’s challenging. It’s what we have. And it is beautiful.

Failure taught me the importance of connection

At the time of my first divorce I pretty much had no really close and intimate friendships. One of the first insights of that terrible time was how desperately I needed connection. Someone to walk that road with me. A companion, a fellow traveller.

I set out to build a real friendship. I thought it was about having that one true friend. Then through more struggles realizing I need a whole community! That set me in a direction where I now have the most precious diverse connections I could wish for. Companions. Thinkers. Challengers. Life givers. Fellow travellers.

Failure taught me resilience

Failure made me think I had no staying power. No focus. Couldn’t follow through. Didn’t have what it takes. Wasn’t strong enough. Each failure reinforcing this.

Getting up again taught me something different. Every time I got up again. And again. Something I could never learn from success. That I’m tenacious. I’m a bulldog. As one friend said: I keep getting up again – my success is inevitable. Yes I’m talented. Yes I’m unique. Yes I have many attributes for building a strong life. But so does everyone. And we are all wired for resilience. Yes I’m resilient. And so are you.


I hope you enjoyed the article. If you want to explore some of these ideas further (and much, much more), then sign up for Unshakeable – Build Confidence for an Empowered Life, a one day workshop Ian and I are co-facilitating on Saturday 20th May 2017 in Bath, UK. 

3 thoughts on “I’m A Failure: My Path To Resilience

  1. This has been on file for me to read for several weeks. I finally got to it today! Thanks Ian for sharing your journey so honestly. I love the lessons you’ve drawn out of your experience, especiallyabout ‘being present in the present’; a daily challenge for me.

    • Thanks Jenny.

      I appreciate the feedback and the roles both you and Bernard have played in my life. Being present in the present remains a challenge – and a deep joy whenever i experience it. Something new that is emerging is the double joy of being present with someone else who is also truly present. It has a kind of magic that we were made for. Simultaneous connection with self and others. Beautiful!

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