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. 

Checking-in on Myself

As a coach and a trainer, I know how important it is to check-in on myself on a regular basis. If I don’t put in the time and energy to reflect on my own practice and journey of transformation, I get stale pretty quickly. I fall into the same routines and patterns in interactions with my clients, and the life just sort of drains out of me, and probably out of them too. Instead of my sessions being high-energy, spontaneous and creative explorations, they become dull and predictable exercises. Unsurprisingly, if it doesn’t have life it isn’t going to bring life, so there is little potential for positive change, let alone the deep transformational work, which is what I get up for in the morning.

It’s good therefore to have a framework for checking out myself and what I’m doing. I particularly enjoyed this one from top coach Rich Litvin. It’s an A to Z of tips for coaches, many of which have links to further resources.

Checking out his list, I find that there are some I’m fully embracing, some I am partially engaging with, but need to grow in, and others, where I’m barely off the starting blocks. I don’t see that as a negative, however. Rather it is exciting to discover ways I can enhance both my own journey and, the journey of those I work with.

If you’re involved in coaching, or any form of personal and professional growth; what frameworks do you use to check-in on yourself, and how are you doing right now?

If you want to experience the power of transformation in your life; book in for one of our Transformation Intensives – currently we are taking bookings for 7th to 9th July 2017.

The Transformation Intensive – 7th to 9th July 2017 – Bristol UK

I am really excited to let you know about a brand new workshop – the Transformation Intensive, that is going to be happening in July 2017.

I’ve been developing some of this material and teaching it in one day events and groups for a while, but now for the first time I’m putting it all together with brand-new material, in a three day intensive programme that offers participants a framework and practical tools to rewire their lives for radical growth, wholeness and fulfilment.

As a participant you will:

  • Discover how your unique qualities have wired you for growth
  • Learn practical strategies to overcome obstacles and limitations
  • Engage with the power of your personal story to bring about change
  • Craft your personal blueprint for wholeness and fulfilment 

Special Introductory Price and Early-Bird Discount

I am offering this life-changing workshop at a special introductory price of only £250 for the whole 3 days, including lunch, refreshments and study materials. However, if you book your place by March 28th 2017 you will receive an additional Super Early-bird Discount of a further £100 off the special introductory price, so you can attend the Transformation Intensive for only £150.

For more information and to claim your place click below

Eventbrite - The Transformation Intensive: re-wire your life for radical growth

Transformation Journey Manifesto

When I originally wrote the Transformation Journey Manifesto a couple of months ago (the one you can find here); it came out all at once, in a brief and powerful creative exhalation, right from the core of my being. I found a free web-site where I could transform it into some fancy word art to make a poster (feel free to download it, print it out, spread it around). It was cool. I showed it to a few people, who liked it and seemed to be inspired by what had inspired me. But after a while, I began to realise that good though it was, it wasn’t the full deal. It didn’t really express the full importance of what the Transformation Journey means to me; what it could mean to you, and potentially to the world around us.

Looking at it now it is more like a personal creed – a statement of values and beliefs around deep, radical growth and change, and I stand by and remain excited by every single statement of it. But I want more. I want something more than a piece of inspirational personal philosophy. A true manifesto sets out a vision for transforming the world around us, and in the end that’s what the Transformation Journey is all about – changing the world, one life, one conversation, one insight at a time.

I decided to break this powerful creed down, to drill down into the guts of it, to extract more of the essential goodness. What matters to me needs to come out in what I do; so somewhere on the inside of this personal creed are the core beliefs, the pillars and foundations of the Transformation Journey.

From Lack to Abundance

One of the key drivers for deep change, is when we are able to break out of the limiting stories that we tell ourselves. Transformation happens when we rewrite those stories as narratives of opportunity rather than of limitation.

The Story of Lack

One of the most prevalent limiting stories is what I call the Story of Lack. The story is essentially an ongoing mind-set around which we have woven a narrative, that tells us and the world that we are not enough, and we do not have enough. Just to be clear, the Story of Lack is not the same as REAL lack. Sadly we live in a world where very real and painful lack is an all too common experience. Millions of people every day, through circumstances wholly beyond their control, do not have enough food, shelter or other essentials. This is not just a mind-set with a story woven around it; it is a real experience of deprivation.

1. Buying Into The Story

Sometimes we experience limitations in our lives. In an effort to explain those limitations to ourselves, we conclude that there is something lacking in ourselves or in our resources. We convince ourselves that the circumstances of our lives that gave rise to these experiences are beyond our control. Before we know it, we have bought into a story that tells us, “I can’t do … because I don’t have enough …” or, “I can’t do … because I’m not … enough.”

Starting the Journey

raceI started writing this post, thinking that I really ought to tell you all about how the Transformation Journey is an amazing model or method … and it is amazing, at least I like to think so. But it isn’t a model and it isn’t a method. Models and methods imply  there is a one size fits all approach to change, which there really isn’t.

In fact, the potential for change is dependent on our recognising that we are unique, and that our life-journeys are unique. Any process of change such as the Transformation Journey has to be personal. Your journey cannot be the same as my journey, or that of the person from down the street.

Think of your life journey as consisting of a series of stories. Stories are the way in which we ascribe meaning to events and experiences. The stories you’ve been told, and the stories you tell about yourself and your life determine who you are and how your future unfolds. Perhaps your stories are ones of fear and anxiety, confusion and uncertainty, or weakness and powerlessness. How would it look for you if instead they were stories of empowerment, freedom, strength, passion, purpose and greatness? The Transformation Journey offers a paradigm for changing the stories. If you want a technical word for it, the Transformation Journey is a ‘meta-narrative’ – a framework within which we can learn to understand and explore the stories of our lives, our work, our play, our relationships etc. It is a framework within which we can re-imagine and re-write those stories for maximum empowerment, creativity and joy.

Why Transformation Journey?

Transformation, is all about change, but not just any change. It isn’t shallow or superficial, it isn’t temporary or partial. Transformation is about the whole person – body, mind, spirit. It is about a change that is deep and lasting. In a very real sense it is about being re-created in our deepest selves, to live the life we were always born to lead. Everyone has the potential for transformation. it is like our birth-right. Just as the caterpillar doesn’t remain a caterpillar, but mutates into a butterfly; so already encompass the possibility of deep, radical change and growth.

Journey, is all about process. The processes that get us from A to B and beyond. Sometimes the journey is short, sometimes it is long. For many of us the jouneys that we face have much in the way of challenges and obstacles, but if we engage with it fully, we find that we already contain within us the seeds of the power to face and overcome what we have always seen as limiting factors. In fact it is the process of facing those challenges and obstacles that actually gives us the transformational fuel for the journey. If we are able fully to embrace the journey, we discover that it is always surprising, exciting and life-bringing.

Put the two together and you have the Transformation Journey – a paradigm of profound personal change and growth, a meta-narrative that allows you to unlock all the gifts and talents, the passions and unique potentials hidden away inside.

There is no set starting place for your Transformation Journey. There is a sense in which the journey of your life begins the day you’re born,  even the day you’re conceived. You could say it flows from the lives of your parents and ancestors, and the people who have an influence on you.

A Transformation Journey, however, is one we take ownership of for ourselves. It begins when we recognise within ourselves the desire to re-create the patterns of our lives, to take what we were given and re-write the stories. If you’re reading this, the chances are your Transformation Journey is already under-way.

Use the comments section to tell us about your own experience of transformational journeys.