Advent Reflections for Single Parents & Other Rare Species 7

December 7

Learning from ‘Failure’


Learning from failure – yesterday I fell down. I’m choosing not to call it failure. At some late stage of the evening, I realised I had not kept to my commitment to do a daily blog. You may imagine the ensuing internal dialogue.

“Hmm, you can’t even manage 6 consecutive days!” Are you really going to fail to keep to your commitment?

“Well, I’m not sure I have anything of value to say today.”

”I’m sure you could think of something if you could be bothered to put your mind to it.”

” Well I’m not sure anyone would even notice! It’s not as though anyone seems to be reading it, or commenting, or re-posting or sharing it. Maybe I can just skip a day and nobody will notice.” (They did!)

”That’s not the point. You made a commitment to yourself. And you know that a large part of the point of writing a blog like this is to help keep yourself on track at what has historically been a difficult time of year for you. So what does it mean to give up on yourself so soon? Don’t you have any staying power?”

”You know what? I used to think that was true, but I have proved myself wrong! You know the weekly meditation I started running to make sure I started my week on a positive footing? 7 years!!! 7 years, without fail, other than a couple of Mondays when I was sick or travelling. I’ve run that meditation from England, France, Italy, South Africa and Australia! So there! 

And what about my Italian learning? I’ve got a 455 day streak on Duolingo, and it would have been almost double that if they hadn’t changed the cutoff time and I hadn’t gone walking in the bush for 5 days!”

“I agree about the meditation – that’s really something – well done! The duolingo I think is more about your being so competitive.”

”You are right in a way, but hey, I am actually teaching in Italian, now, so it can’t be all down to competitiveness! And anyway, I’m going to follow the advice of @James Cleer in #Atomic Habits – never miss twice.”

” Ok. Go to bed then – it’s late.”

Interesting that if I had committed to someone else to do something on a daily basis, I would have knuckled down and done it. Because I didn’t think anyone was reading my blog regularly, I thought it didn’t matter so much if I ‘only’ let myself down. And yet, a large part of me knows that self-respect, self-compassion and self-care are really pre-requisites for applying any of those to others on a consistent basis. And if I want anyone to treat me respect, compassion and care, the best way to achieve that is to model that behaviour for myself …and others.

Not many people really achieve this, I don’t think. Not many people achieve self forgiveness, or forgiveness of others. Not many have walked the Long Walk to Freedom. One person who did – though it was a very long and painful walk – 27 years, to be precise – was Nelson Mandela.

Here are some of his thoughts on learning from failure, and of what it means to truly forgive.


I think I will further explore this theme of forgiveness tomorrow. Meantime, if you would like to read my earlier blogs (other than Dec 6!), you can find them here.

I would have been grateful for some daily inspiration in earlier Advents. Please can you help make up for my technical inadequacies by sharing this post in a way that the people who might also consider it helpful, will be able to find it! Thanks, and never mind the dark and the rain, tomorrow is another new beginning, another day to rise, to get back up again, even if you have fallen.