There is no such thing as failure, only learning experience.

There is no such thing as failure

I am a risk taker. There you go I admit it, I have taken big risks all through out my life. Sometimes the risk works out, sometimes they fail I want to celebrate the failures, as many of them as possible, because every failure creates me, Lynn, the person. Every failure adds a bit more of experience and learning to Lynn and I become a more rounded, empowered, successful person. Indeed failure make us more successful.

There is no such thing as failure, only learning experience.

Failure in the UK is something to be laughed at. Failures are pitied, offered help, offered a way out, ridiculed, called out in the media, pointed at by friends in the playground (and I mean the adult one as well as the child’s one). But why? Where did this culture come from that failure is SUCH a bad thing?

To fail at something means you have tried something different. Inspiration strikes and something tells you to just do it. You give that something a huge go, be it a business opportunity, learning something new, a relationship, a relocation, a change in life direction. But it doesn’t always work. We are as humans built of strengths and weaknesses. Those weaknesses may prove to be too strong and no matter how hard you try they win over and the thing you tried fails.

But hey just think of what you have learnt. Here are my biggest failures:

Age 26 I quit my great job at HSBC to become a recruitment consultant.

I was on a career journey at HSBC; a financial analyst aged 22 and studying for my CIMA accountancy exams.  I qualified by my 25th birthday!  I whizzed through the exams and did a great job at HSBC working in the product profitability team.  It was great to learn about banking products and how much profitability they created for HSBC. I worked in a great team … we socialised A LOT!  It was just the best first job after leaving university.

After all that hard work one day I decided I had had enough. I saw a random advert in the Evening Standard where a recruitment firm was looking for new agents. I called them, had an interview and was offered the job. With very little thought of the consequences I quit HSBC and became a recruitment consultant. My days of being an accountant ended (for the moment).

It was a rash decision moving into a job that I didn’t know much about. I very quickly realised it was pretty awful and really not me. And quit after three months. The tipping point was when I was recruiting for Diagio, a new qualified accountant they wanted, basically someone like me. And they were offering a salary of £40k. I could do that job!

It was a failure that hurt me financially as I took a pay drop (as I was expecting commission quickly that didn’t happen!) but it made me realise that the grass isn’t always greener. And that I had exactly the right personality for a big company like Diageo that I could go work for. I set my sights on Tesco as the best company to work for in the UK in 2004 and I got a job as a business analyst. I am ever so good at setting my mind to something and making it happen

Age 31 I failed at people management

I worked at Tesco for five years, around three of the years happy. There were three different roles and I moved around quickly, being encouraged by the organisation to experience different departments. I worked in head office finance, retail finance and commercial finance. Three great jobs giving me incredible experience of a company doing incredibly well, money was being made and invested, it was an exciting time for the business.

My last role in commercial finance gave me the chance to lead a team. A wonderful opportunity but alas I was brought into a team with an under performing team member who wasn’t the right fit for the company. I performance managed him out of the business. It was an awful time, meetings upon meetings, tears, performance plans, notes on everything. It was incredibly time intensive.

After he left he hit back with a tribunal, and I was hit with a constructive dismissal case. The angels were looking down on me, my commercial director whom at the time could ‘see’ this potentially happening. From the beginning he advised me to keep notes of everything, do everything by the book, consult HR on everything. I did, thank you to AB.

The tribunal fell apart, all the witnesses spoke in praise of me and the case was found in my favour. But this was the beginning of the end. That process destroyed my confidence and my ambitions to lead a team. I was once a high flyer who decided to give up. I went onto sick leave and eventually took redundancy. The stress of the situation was too much.

I failed at people management and avoided it for a long time afterwards. Or rather it felt like I had failed for many years. But reflecting back I hadn’t failed. I did everything right and the organisation failed at supporting me sufficiently to help me back into the working mindset after such a negative experience.

There is no such thing as failure, only learning experience.

I am a failure with money

Oh this is a biggie and one that I have written about time and time again. I have been through the debt cycle many times. And I never seem to learn. I can remember three big times in my life where I have got into extreme levels of debt and have not been in a position to repay it.

There was a time after a relationship ended in my late twenties where I basically spent six months pissing money up the wall. I was spending £1 to 2k per month on going out/shopping/drinking and this went on for 6 months. It ended with a chunk of money from the sale of the house we had owned together paying off the debt.

Then in 2012/13 I got very carried away with a house extension and firstly did not stick to a budget and secondly did not have enough funds in place to pay for the extension. We just kept on spending until there was a debt of £20k. The universe acted here in a mysterious way with a cheque from my step mother, inheritance from my parents 20 years after they had died? It was a surprise from the blue. And it cleared my debt.

And then again in 2017 I found myself in 16k of debt after the corporate life ended I carried on spending on an extravagant life, holidays ensued and money was invested into my business. That debt is now much lower, currently at around 5k left to pay.

Writing this feels like a failure. A big failure.

As I keep making the same mistake again and again and not learning. I am hoping this last time, through all the hardwork of repayment of the debt will make me realise that I cant let it happen again, and I have to save up before spending.

What can I pull out as a learning? Hmm maybe that I am getting closer to understanding my money mindset. That I am a spender and I have an addiction to spending. And that I feel pretty damn awful when life is restricted and I can’t spend as I have done in the past, despite that spending leading to debt.

I have recently been given a really good idea on how to budget my spending based on earnings. I am only allowed to spend 10% of my previous month cash earning on fun stuff the following month. So if I earn £5,000 in June I can spend £500 on fun (dinners, drinks, cinema, clothes, makeup, holidays etc) in July. Or if I earn £2,000 in July then its just £200 that can be spent in August. That money is to be moved to a separate account and fun spending can only happen from that account and when the money is gone its gone. Or hopefully there will be money left and it will help to create another pot of savings.

Failure can lead to huge learning, self realisation and development. If you see someone failing celebrate with them, say well done for taking the risk, well done for trying. Well done for trying to change your destiny and make improvements to your life. ****** well done to all you failures. (and me).

What do you think about failure?


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Lynn Beattie

Aka Mrs MummyPenny

Personal Finance Expert

I write about personal finance made simple, lifestyle choices that will save you time and money, as well as products and services that offer great value.

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10 Responses

  1. I love this post, thank you for writing it. Failure is such a huge part of my life, failed marriage, failed multi million pound business, failed new product launches, failed parenting skills when children come up against problems. I have learned to love my failures and embrace them as part of me. If only the rest of the world did the same!

    1. Ah hon..but those ‘failures’ have made you the determined person you are today. You have learnt alot and are stronger as a result.

  2. I think that if you fail at something or make a big mistake once, you need to learn from it and make changes so that you don’t repeat your mistake/failure. If you keep making the same mistakes over and over again, then that’s the problem you need to address.

    1. Agree, but tough to make a big mistake. hopefully not too expensive a mistake though…thank you for commenting

  3. I don’t count failure as part of my vocabulary, because it’s subjective. One person’s failure is another person’s success. Reading this, you have succeeded in so many things, and made just a few mistakes that you needed to make to keep things real. My mother always said ‘Anyone who never made a mistake, never made anything,’ and it’s very true. You haven’t failed – you’ve just tried several options on the way to success.

    1. Indeed good point, one persons failure is another ones success…love this. Much love to you Sandra xx

  4. A lovely post and a very good question. I agree with Sandra, failure is very subjective and particularly like her mother’s saying. Life is a learning experience and you sometimes make mistakes along the way but that’s all part and parcel of it. I’m a big believer in that nothing is a waste if you’ve learnt something from it.

    1. Totally Jane…failure hurts 100%, but I think if we flip it into a learning and a success then its such a positive thing. xx

  5. A really insightful, honest post. It’s amazing how strong we become as people from the experience. Thanks for sharing. I love the idea about the future spending x

  6. I agree with you. You cannot learn anything without making mistakes. Any learning happens by trial, and it is very important to understand that every mistake is an irreplaceable experience.

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