Marie Forleo introduction

Hi!

I'm Marie

You have gifts to share with the world and my job is to help you get them out there.

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If you want to succeed in business, there’s one truth you must make peace with:

At some point, you will fail.

Your launch will flop. Your book will get terrible reviews. You’ll miss your sales targets by a mile…

Or it may be more subtle. After you’ve been running your business for a while — especially your first business — you might take stock and realize that it’s not what you imagined. It’s not producing the money, joy or freedom you’d hoped for. What happened to those big dreams and ambitious goals? Because the business you’re running now certainly doesn’t feel like the business of your dreams.

Start focusing on what's working rather than putting so much energy on what doesn't. Click To Tweet

When you realize you’re nowhere near achieving the goals you set for your business, you might feel like a failure, want to throw in the towel and move on.

Don’t walk away so fast.

While it’s tempting to quit, failure in business doen’t need to be the end of the story, it’s likely a just a necessary reality check.

Learning from Failure: A Reality Check for Your Business

Most businesses take quite a long time to become successful (even the ones that seem like they “made it” overnight).

Failure is a natural part of building a successful business. It doesn’t need to be the end of your story  — unless that’s what you choose.

The secret to moving on from failure is to actively look for, and capitalize on the lessons. Every stumble is a chance to grow wiser, stronger, and more capable of achieve your ultimate ambition.

In this live call-in show, I talk with Alicia, who confessed:

I’ve been running my own business for the last three years, but a lot of the things I wanted haven’t come true in the way that I hoped. I struggle with feeling like I failed. I’m left feeling like all of this effort I put in — all the things I worked really hard to create — none of them really generated the success I was hoping for and now I have to start from scratch. Help!

Alicia and I talk through how she measures success and why she feels so unsuccessful. Spoiler: It’s not because she’s a failure.

Watch the clip, and keep reading after the video to learn four mindset shifts that can turn your gnarliest failures into springboards to success.

View Transcript

Check out this episode on The Marie Forleo Podcast

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Giving up on your business after its first failure or two is like leaving the theater in the middle of an epic movie.

Say you’re watching a two-hour movie, and 45 minutes in, all hell breaks loose — there’s a ton of conflict. The main character is floundering and the chance for success looks dire. If you walked out at that very moment, you’d think that character was a total failure.

But that’s just an inflection point. Their story isn’t over. And neither is yours.

4 Mindset Shifts to Begin Learning from Failure

Okay, so you’re in the thick of it. You failed. Big time. 

Now what?

Instead of bowing out in shame with your tail between your legs, the right mindset just might set you on a higher path. Use these mantras to turn your failure into a growth-opportunity:

  1. “Failure is an event, not a characteristic.” Judge Victoria Pratt said this to me during an interview and my heart cheered when I heard it. “Failure is just an event. It’s not a characteristic. People can’t be failures.” Look. We all make bad judgment calls. But your flops are events, not permanent character traits. Failure is not who you are. YOU are not a failure and can never be one.
  2. “I win or I learn, but I never lose.” This is one of my go-to mantras. Hearing it completely shifted my perspective. And thank God it did, because I used to love cataloging my every mess-up. But the truth is, there’s not a single instance in my past where my supposed “wrong” action or “botched” attempt didn’t eventually lead to something good and useful.
  3. “A fall isn’t final unless you stay on the ground.” We all wipe out. Physically, emotionally, creatively, financially, socially — everyone does dumb sh*t. It’s inherent to the human growth process. But here’s the key: a fall is never final unless you stay on the ground. Catch your breath. Get back up. Keep going.
  4. “Focus on what’s working.” Maybe you didn’t hit your sales goals this year, but that doesn’t make your entire business a failure. Instead of getting so caught up in the goals you didn’t meet, take stock of what you did. Look at everything you have accomplished. When we acknowledge wins and progress, we tend to notice them more. The more we notice progress, the more momentum we create.*

*This is backed by neuroscience. Research shows that celebrating small wins gives your brain a spritz of dopamine, a natural feel-good hormone linked with motivation, which gets you excited to keep going. When you stack and celebrate wins regularly, you build mental and emotional strength, which is an essential for long-term business success. 

DIVE DEEPER: This question will help you overcome your fear of failure. Plus, here are 4 steps to overcome a devastating setback with Dr. Cathy Collautt.

Finally…

Remember what F.A.I.L. really stands for. Think about the word “FAIL” like this: it’s a faithful attempt in learning. That’s it. A faithful attempt in learning. It’s nothing to fear and nothing to avoid. From this perspective, failure is not a glitch in your journey, it’s a must-have feature. As cliché as it sounds, you can only truly fail if you stop learning and growing.

What Key Lessons Can You Learn from Failure?

In the midst of or immediately following a screw-up, do I personally sometimes cry and feel like a clueless idiot? Yes, of course.

Do I ever beat myself up if I wasted massive amounts of time, money, or energy? Yes, yes, and yes.

But the nanosecond I remember “I win or I learn, but I never lose,” I begin to regain sanity and perspective. Something good will (eventually) come out of this. Something that’ll help me grow and do better next time.

So once you’ve wallowed, it’s time to figure out exactly what you can learn from failure.

Action Step: Look to your past and think about a specific time you failed (or more accurately, made a faithful attempt in learning). 

  • What are three good things that came from it? 
  • What lessons did you learn? 
  • What valuable understanding do you now have that you wouldn’t have otherwise?

Now think about your present challenge. How can you grow, change, or pivot now to avoid repeating this mistake?

Remember, hitting your goal is far less important than who you become in the process of working towards it. The biggest benefits of challenging yourself are the mental and emotional strengths you build along the journey, including: focus, discipline, determination, resilience, humility, and faith.

The qualities you’re developing through failure now are the distinguishing factors that’ll lead to success down the road.

Today’s Failure Leads to Tomorrow’s Success

“You always pass failure on your way to success.”

~ Mickey Rooney 

No one hits it out of the park on their first swing. When you’re feeling unsuccessful, remember that everything you’re doing now is an opportunity to learn and grow into the person you need to be.

Look, I get it. When you’re in it, still stinging with pain or shame from a disappointment, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. That’s when we need other people to remind us that we can find solace and inspiration in the stories of people like us who have risen above setbacks and bounced back stronger than ever.

One of my favorite stories comes from actress and director Bryce Dallas Howard.

My grandmother said to me, “Do you know how many auditions the average working actor needs to go on before booking a job?”

I guessed one in ten. And she said to me, “No, it’s 64. One in 64 auditions.”

And it was this clarifying moment for me to statistically understand the odds.

My grandmother went back into acting in her 60s and she started counting the number of auditions she would go on. She got up to 100 without booking a job and then she’s like, “Okay, I’m gonna start the count over at one and we’ll see if I make it to 64.”

And by 64 she did actually book a job and she had this tremendous hot streak for the last 10 years of her life.

So when I started auditioning I was very inspired by her stick-to-it-ness, so I just started counting. One audition. Two auditions. And I promised myself I wouldn’t get upset if I didn’t book something before 64.

I got the job on my 48th audition, and my agent later asked me, “How did you not quit? Most actors quit long before you.” I told her the story about my grandmother and she said, “I wish more creative people understood this because then they wouldn’t be so hard on themselves.”

The takeaway from Bryce? Rejection is a prerequisite to success. Whether you get criticized, passed over, or flat out fired, it just means there’s more to learn. You’re on your way.

Thomas Edison’s grade school teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything” and he was fired from jobs for being “unproductive.” But after 1000 unsuccessful attempts, he invented the lightbulb and made the future brighter for us all.

Oprah Winfrey was fired from her reporting job because she apparently couldn’t separate her emotions from her stories. Which, as we all know, is what made her into the world’s most inspiring and compassionate interviewer.

Truly, the world’s most successful people welcome failure and rejection because they know that it’s one more notch in their belt. One step closer to their dream.

Your Turn: Practice Learning From Failure

In the comments below, tell me:

  • Which of the four mantras resonates with you right now?
  • How will you put it into practice today?

Remember, on the road to any dream, Faithful Attempts In Learning are inevitable. But the only true failure is letting it stop you from pursuing your dreams at all. All the other let downs? They are chances to learn new skills, clarify your goals, and reevaluate your measure of success.

Commit to learning from your failures — both the setbacks you’ve experienced in the past and those yet to come — so that nothing can stop you from using your gifts to change the world.

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53 comments

  1. Oh so much to say on this <3 Thank you for sharing this, and it's so hard to fight the cultural teachings of failure. We don't tell kids who try to walk and fall down they'll never walk, to give up, to try something else. I know from my MSc in Neuroscience that failure at new things is what actually grows our new neural pathways… and yet I find myself failing and being frustrated with myself about it all the time!!!
    Most often, failures remind me of the innate human capability to cope with stress and difficulty: we rise from adversity and grow in times of hardship – and this is natural for us as human beings.
    If I had a billboard for everyone it would just read "you're more capable than you think you are" and I think failure is really the ultimate lesson in that message.

    I also love the idea of considering 'what's your measuring stick?' in pretty much anything – what does define success for us? It's such a good place to question what we truly feel and what might otherwise be something we don't question but also don't agree with.

  2. Good content.To avoid future mistakes, It is good to learn from your failure.

  3. Just landing in my inbox at the right time! I didn’t know about the acronmyn for fail – that’s a complete game changer for me! So important not to tie our own self worth to our business ups and downs. Thank you Marie x

    • Heather- Team Forleo

      So glad you found it helpful, Julie. We love it when the inbox messages meets the heart. Thank YOU for being here.

  4. How did you know?

    Right now, I literally have two job ads from the newspaper stuck to the back of my planner and have been going back and forth between downplaying my business to apply for them or writing the title “THAT TIME I ALMOST QUIT MY BUSINESS” above them and moving forward.

    I’ve been in business for 18 months and haven’t hit my revenue goals, but I just decided today that I’m moving forward anyway. I’ve stepped back into supporting someone else’s business dreams for far too long. It’s time to go after my own.

    Thank you for this reminder. I figure I should give myself at least 64 chances before I start to worry, and I’ve only burned through one!

    • Heather- Team Forleo

      Celeste, KEEP GOING. You may remember this point on your business journey as the moment when everything changed. Your mindset and your determination to keep going even when it’s hard can truly shift everything. Here’s to what’s next! xo

  5. For the past few days I’ve been writing a mini course… about fear! And last night I was feeling a bit stuck and considered for a brief second to put a hold on it. So how ironic is your message today! This exact moment is a reminder that we’re being watched over and Spirit is sending us little messages to keep us going… with faith. Thank you, Marie. And I agree – you can use fear as a little friend to push you forward.
    Truly,
    Tabitha

    • Heather- Team Forleo

      Tabitha, you were meant to hear this message at this exact moment after your feelings last night. Keep going- you’ve certainly got some magic on your side.

      • Thank you, Heather. That means a lot. I agree. ✨

  6. Thank you! I’ve been struggling with feelings of failure lately, especially as I’ve been dealing with health issues that have made it hard for me to work at the level I want to and am used to. This article helped.

    • Heather- Team Forleo

      You’re so welcome, Sara. What’s ‘successful’ and right for you is exactly what you determine. When life changes our circumstances, it allows us to look at things a bit differently and you’re doing just that. We’re so glad you’re here and Marie’s words were helpful for you today.

  7. Thank you Marie. I stumbled upon this in my inbox, and it was the dose of inspiration that I needed today. The story from Bryce about his Grandmother’s ambitious nature, being one of his biggest motivational factors along his journey. That touched me so much. I was so close to my Grandmother as well, and she is by far the biggest motivator in my life.

    • Heather- Team Forleo

      We love that your Grandmother was such a gift to you, and clearly still is, Keyana. What a beautiful legacy to carry on and continue through your presence in the world.

  8. “Inspiration does exist but it must find you working.” Pablo Picasso

  9. CJ

    Superbloominlutely F A N T A S T I C, dearest Marie!!! (as is your “Everything Is Figureoutable” SuperSoul Session on OWN)

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

    • Heather- Team Forleo

      Your kind words are much appreciated, CJ. Thanks for watching and cheering Marie on.

  10. Mary Alouette

    I really need this today. Thank you for keeping it real!

  11. I have been there, thank you for the article

  12. Thank you, Marie!
    Always timely xoxo

  13. I literally had a conversation with my husband last night in which he tried to tell me I am a failure at my spiritual coaching business (that I started as COVID hit the US). I have overcome so many obstacles, challenges and mind trash and just because I haven’t enrolled as many clients as I want (or he wants) does not mean I am failing. It just hasn’t happened YET. I’ve celebrated so many successes along the way that he simply wont acknowledge because they don’t involve cash. All the momentum is in my favor and him telling me all this makes me even more determined to enroll the perfect women into my course.
    Thank you for strengthening the resolve I have from a new front. I am defiantly committed to fulfilling my soul’s purpose and will not let anyone steal my dream because it doesn’t coincide with what society says is possible. I am possible. You are possible. We choose our path and use everything to to learn and grow from!

    • teamforleo

      Mindy, you sounds like you have such a wonderful outlook. Keep going and moving forward. We all believe in you! -Sarah, Team Forleo

  14. Cassaundra

    Thank you so much!! “I win or I learn, but I never lose.” This is just what I need to remain focused on the opportunities of this moment, as I pivot in both my professional and personal life. Your post is such a blessing. Thank you!

    • teamforleo

      We’re so happy you’re here, Cassaundra and are sending you tons of strength. You got this. -Sarah, Team Forleo

  15. Today the Mantra is focus on what’s working. Today is my annual audit of my calendar. It’s one of my favorite ways to take stock of my business, to see where my time is best spent personally and professionally, and to high five myself for every win I’ve stacked in the past 11 months.

  16. Michelle

    Everything about this is exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you, Marie. <3

  17. Jerry

    Very helpful. I liked 4 focus on what’s working

  18. First, I love all of your episodes. Your advice is always on point. And secondly, I love your smurf glass. Thanks for being real and sharing yourself to help others achieve success.

  19. Tina

    Oh wow! I had shivers at a few points reading this… must be exactly what I needed to hear after feeling like my new business venture is way harder than I anticipated and already made multiple mistakes in my learning process. So now I’m going to try to see this as a positive thing, since I’ve obviously made multiple Faithful Attempts In Learning! I love that! And it also helps me ACCEPT that this is expected and a lot more Faithful Attempts In Learning are NEEDED!
    I made a vow to myself when I started my business journey that no matter what, I will not quit. I will readjust and keep trying. This will help me stay on that track. Thanks!

    • teamforleo

      Clarity and growth comes from action and you are doing it, Tina! Keep shifting those sails to find the wind you need. We’re all cheering you on. -Sarah, Team Forleo

  20. Mary Rose

    I’ll join in with the chorus of voices saying: “Wow!” I heard this at just the right moment!” I’m at a turning point in my business, and assessing what I’ve done (good & bad) and setting clear metrics for moving forward is excellent advice for me. Once again, Marie, your insights are awesome!

    • teamforleo

      We’re thrilled it found you at the right time, Mary Rose! Thank you for being here. -Sarah, Team Forleo

  21. Thanks for this!
    I almost closed down my coaching fb page today because I was telling myself I have nothing to share. I felt there was no connection with the audience. I felt I had no place to give parenting advice because I too struggle with motivation to parent in the way I value a good chunk of the time. I was thinking I lack the years of real world experience proof (outside of my own home) to have the mandate to say anything. But then when I looked back on what I had posted in the last few months I realised it was hardly ANYTHING. And when I got this email from you and it said: don’t walk away just yet. I decided to make a posting schedule and get some structure in what themes I would be posting about. Achievable bite sized pieces to get that dopamine flowing and build momentum. And when I find myself bathing in doom thoughts of low self esteem, I’ll journal about it until I remember it’s got more to do with the past then it does with the present.

    • teamforleo

      Hi Liza, way to take a step back and see what the real story is and then not giving up but instead moving forward. Keep going, keep moving forward and know that we’re all here cheering you on. -Sarah, Team Forleo

  22. Ann

    Hi, this is a very inspiring piece from you Maria, and I have only just gone back to trying to find a publisher for some fun children’s picture book stories that I have written with a theme of self esteem , which I know are good, but have had constant rejects over five years, so I took a three year break from trying! Several good publishers wanted to publish them but then decided ‘not to take a risk with something so different’, after keeping me waiting for months for them to appear in their catalogues. So I couldn’t take it anymore! But I am trying again – although I feel quite fragile about it. Perhaps this is the time – I hope so.
    Also I was watching a programme about Thomas Edison and he in fact stole the idea of the light bulb from a British inventor, Joseph Swan, who had patented the idea 50 years before, and this was upheld in the Courts in both countries. But Edison still went into business selling light bulbs and made a fortune. I guess we have to be protective of our work and hope that someone will eventually see it’s potential – just like an actor taking auditions in your great examples.

    • Truth

      I’m also writers so I can relate. I self published, using “create space”, an arm of Amazon and they got the printing done but they weren’t helpful with marketing or editing, so I would go with a different company at this point or go directly to a company that prints books and advertise them online myself, even doing a little video on Facebook or a little video on YouTube.

    • teamforleo

      Hi Ann, You know, Marie’s first book was self published which means no one had to approve it but her and then eventually her audience, whom love it. We believe in you – don’t give up! -Sarah, Team Forleo

  23. Truth paradise

    I love you Marie. I love how you Express your energy in such a shining vibrant way. I think if it’s anything that I’ve learned from you your way of expressing is the most inspiring aspect how’s the gift you give to me.
    I am in the unknown right now, just being, watching to see what arises in me naturally and allowing it to move through me without force or resistance, watching to see where it takes me when I just let’s go into my own energy.
    It brings a fear for me sometimes, the ideas that I’m not taking action and should be taken action, according to my mind and the opinions of some Friends, and successful teachers.
    I I’m very grateful to you for your inspiring interviews and the contact high I get from watching you go. Thank you so much, Truth

  24. Jillian Forde

    Marie is dropping them knowledge bombs!!!! Thanks for being an inspiration !!

  25. Thank you so much for providing such positive and useful content. I am just starting a business and have no idea where it will go but I’m enjoying the journey and I love the actor story and will be keeping track of my failed pitches and keep going. I too feel like this came just when I needed to read it so thank you.

    • teamforleo

      Hi Karen, what an exciting time for you! We’re thrilled you’re here. -Sarah, Team Forleo

  26. Thank you for this timely and invigorating coaching via essay, Team Forleo. I was not actively dwelling in a sense of “failure” today, or at least I didn’t think I was – until I realized while reading this essay that the lostness and low radar worry permeating my consciousness stems from fear of failure. I have been pouring my heart (not to mention almost every waking minute) into my blog for feminist cat parents, but I wonder if I’m just talking into the void. The definition of FAIL as “Faithful Attempt In Learning” and perspective shift of failure from “glitch in your journey” to “must-have feature” opened a window for me. I feel fresh air coming in. Thank you.

    • teamforleo

      Hi Melody, Your site is so fun and you can tell the amount of love you’ve put into it. We’re happy that this episode brought fresh air into your journey. -Sarah, Team Forleo

  27. River

    “I WIN OR LEARN BUT I NEVER LOSE!” This message is just what I needed hear. I’m taking a step into putting my astrology and creative mystic coaching business on hold. My intention when making the shift to full-time was to continue to honor my own creative pursuits. However, the demands of my growing business haven’t allowed that. I’ve found myself supporting others to accomplish their creative goals, while my own wither.
    I’m at a good spot within the rhythm of my client work to pause for three months and truly commit to my creative projects, and to explore what shifts/changes are needed long-term. I am so grateful to be able to take this space. And yet, I was feeling doubt and shame, naming myself a failure for not being able to “do it all”.
    Then this link was in my email, right on time! I just went through the questions listed and filled SO MANY PAGES. I’m connecting with the rich lessons I’ve learned from two years in my business, and trusting this intuitive process. THANK YOU FOR THIS CLARITY.

  28. Focus on what’s working!!!
    I win or I learn – you have just got to keep going and looking at failure and rejection as a prerequisite means you are putting yourself out there and it is something to be welcomed. When your dream and mission is bigger than you, you just keep going, keep trying new things and trust that it will all work out.

  29. Hassaan Tariq

    I was Seth Godin’s website when I watched your interview with him and instantly came to your website, register myself, and reading your blogs now. Impressive and actually I am starting a Marketing Company and Ecommerce Platform in my country “Pakistan”, and definitely a lot to learn from you. Also, I would love to share your geniuses here in my country with a population of 220 million. They all need to know this and hear this from… I am a huge admirer right away and completely sold out.
    Already a big fan of Seth Godin and his work and now following your lead.
    Thank You

  30. When you encounter failure, tackle it head-on, and learn from your mistakes. Realize that every idea that pops up in your mind isn’t going to work. Take the time to organize your thoughts after a failure and realize what you did wrong. Above all else, be willing to learn and grow. Thanks for the great post

  31. I heard this at just the right moment!” I’m at a turning point in my business, and assessing what I’ve done (good & bad) and setting clear metrics for moving forward is excellent advice for me. Once again, Marie, your insights are awesome!

  32. Marie, you are an inspiration to many. I have been listening to you for a few years now and your positivity is encouraging.

  33. I heard this at the perfect second!” I’m at a defining moment in my business, and evaluating what I’ve done (great and terrible) and setting clear measurements for pushing ahead is amazing guidance for me. By and by, Marie, your experiences are wonderful!

    • teamforleo

      So happy that you enjoyed the show. Wonderful to hear that content came to you at the right moment!

      – Antoinette

  34. vosky

    There is no day when you don’t dream of giving up everything and leaving, but something stops you: fear. I was afraid of wasting my life, and slowly shutting down. Fear of waking up every day without smiling, of getting old without growing up. I was madly afraid of arriving at the last of my days, looking back, and regretting everything I could have done but hadn’t done. Living without self-confidence is like driving with the handbrake on.
    I am not a brave person. One day I reached the breaking point and I said “enough”. I have been successful with this program.

    Believe me, it was the best decision of my life, and I whadish I made it sooner. –
    https://bit.ly/35rS2IA

  35. onegyd

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. It’s encouraging to see that we all face rejection and have an opportunity to bounce back from it in new and expected ways!

    • teamforleo

      We certainly hope it was helpful! – Heather

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