Sunday, March 15, 2015


I have failed, spectacularly, at everything I have ever done in my life. No joke, not exaggerating.

I'll tell you a story that's got nothing to do with horses, but everything to do with failure....

I was not the best student in my University, not by a long shot. I failed class after class, but I always went back, took the class again and passed. I ended up graduating, but only by the thinnest of margins. I had a 2.1 GPA and you needed a 2.0 to graduate.

One of my more memorable screw ups was the time I took an Organic Chemistry test while completely drunk. I had been out drinking all night, the test was at 8 am. It was a really, really stupid decision. I showed up 20 minutes late and still finished the test 30 minutes before the rest of the class. I scored so badly that the professor wanted to see me about my results. He asked if I was having trouble in the class, and I responded completely honestly... "I went out last night and I was still drunk when I took the test". He handed my test back to me and said, "Congratulations on your 20% score".

I failed his class that semester, but I took it again and passed. Years later, I was up for a job interview for a very important position at that same University. I walked in, and saw my Organic Chemistry professor, the one I had admitted to showing up drunk to a test for, sitting on my interview committee. I thought for sure I was sunk, because I knew he remembered me, but I got the job.

I asked him later why I was hired over all the other candidates, who had much better academic records and had never showed up drunk for tests, and he said, "Because you have the right attitude."

While I've failed, spectacularly, at everything I've ever done in my life, I've always picked myself back up and gone right back at it. The world doesn't end when you fail at something. I've failed University courses and still was hired by the same University. I've gotten 40% in a dressage test and I'm still allowed to be in dressage. I've flubbed my changes, gone off course, even gotten the comment "out of control" in a dressage test, but they still haven't kicked me out of dressage. I'm even allowed to run dressage shows and be the Vice President of a USDF GMO!

Don't be afraid to fail, because failure is just the beginning.

Spider's first time down centerline. We got a 54% on this test.


  1. Getting back up and trying again shows strength of character. I wouldn't call you a failure by a long shot. I've gotten those scores as well -- and I'm still at it too.

  2. When I fail at something I always remind myself that at least I was doing something. So I may not get a great score at a show, at least I was out there!

  3. Too funny! I wouldn't call it failure though, I would just say you have a heavy dose of tenacity!

  4. While I don't quite have the record of failures you have, the dressage arena experiences strike to my heart. I just posted on another discussion board how riding dressage tests before judges helped prepare me to be a published author. (Hey, my books are on sale at Amazon: Kingdom Beyond the Rim is the first--shameless self promotion over.)

    Anyhow, when you publish you open yourself to criticism, both good and bad. There's a sting to rejection, of course, and a glow from praise, but trying to ride a 17h Thoroughbred with a mind of his own in a dressage competition prepares you for almost anything. A one star review on Amazon hardly bothers you at all when you've managed to score a "1" in a dressage test you've paid $100 (includes office/grounds fees) to ride. *G*

    Horses are a humbling experience and a great way to learn how to cope with the emotional rollercoaster life itself offers.

    Oh, and being a high school teacher trying to teach teenagers helps a little too. *lol*

  5. If you can't fail, you can't take the risks necessary to succeed.

  6. Organic chemistry was my all-time favorite class... just kidding. I did love cell and molec, though.

    Point taken, but there is a world difference between failure after trying 100% and failure after barely trying. I worked with a girl in a Chem lab who had more respect for a B grade "without trying" then she did for A's and "trying". I found this irksome. I don't think that she realized the exponential quantity of effort required to bridge the B to A gap. And then there are some students who consider a B a failure.

  7. Really enojyed this post. And I dont mean that i enjoy reading about your failure...more so I enjoyed reading about your gumption and willing to work on with it! I coudl use some of that!!

  8. love this post! and i agree - the right attitude is everything for me, win or lose :)

  9. I've been doing some reading about success lately, and one thing that many entrepreneurs say is that you can't be afraid to fail!

  10. It's no surprise to us readers that you're resilient :D

    (thinking we could be related - academically lol)

    I signed up for the wrong calculus class freshman year (my first freshman year lol) Should have gone for "calculus for poets"... actually - should have gone to my advisor appointment.

    Anyhoo, I was failing the class spectacularly, mostly due to being in over my head, (and a f*ck-up). When the final rolled around, my strategy was to pretend to take the exam, and after about thirty minutes, confidently marched up to the professor's desk to turn it in.

    You should have seen the looks on the faces of the grade grubbers (whiners about a 98 instead of 100, or not getting the extra credit points) who couldn't process me finishing before them. Delightful, though passing the class would have been a smarter move in retrospect.


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