Coaching Insights #7 Is failure the secret to success?

I’ve worked with many coaches over the years, and one of the biggest fears of failure, and blockages of creative thinking I see them face is financial.

Instead of being able to dedicate their time, energy and focus on supporting their clients and building their business in a creative way, they worry about money.  They struggle to build a healthy, sustainable business. Not just something that enables them to get by, but a financially thriving business where they are doing work they  love, in a way they love doing it and being rewarded financially for it.


What’s the gap?

Your training taught you how to be alongside another person, but in truth most coaches know how to do this innately. Already instinctive rapport builders, naturally empathic and astute listeners, coaches usually have the skills they need to coach. What isn’t guaranteed, but equally needed is the other half which is a knowledge of how to run a healthy and sustainable business.

The problem I see for coaches is that your training has only prepared you for half of the job.  

If you haven’t had previous business experience then understanding how to brand yourself, learning how to create solid eco-systems of products, doing what it takes to sell, and riding the the typical ebb and flow of business can feel like complex challenges to overcome.  In fact not knowing how to navigate these challenges can lead you straight back into the arms of a full time role, if not in an organisation, then often as an associate.  Doing this means you immediately step back into fulfilling someone else’s vision not your own.

Free eBook: 7 simple ways to slow down and pause in less than 10 minutes a day


Is failure the secret to success?

So I wanted to share with you one of the secrets that most people in business don’t talk about.  Actually Anita Roddick was brave enough to say it when she declared:

When your back is against the wall financially, creative juices flow.


The trouble is that when these moments happen in business it can be easy to think you have failed.  When cash flow dries up and more money is flowing out than in, it’s easy to fall down deep into fear and a negative spiral about your ability to run a business.


Don’t be deluded

Of course you don’t want to be deluded, in reality you may have some knowledge gaps in how to run a business, but those are skills that come from over time with experience and application. The bigger test of building a healthy business is being able to move through your fear when you think you have failed.  To keep showing up when you most want to retreat.

Those times when it feels like your back is against the wall, require you to show up even more so that your creativity can keep on flowing.


A compelling story

In her own straight talking style, I think Sarah Akwisombe captures this truth brilliantly.  In her blog she talks about launching her most successful business venture – the No Bull Blog School at a time she felt financially flat-broke. You can read more in her candid post here.

All too often what can feel like collapse is the beginning of the creative birthing process.  So many of us run back to the safety of our comfort zones well before there has been an opportunity to express that creativity.

I’m not suggesting you flog a dead horse in your business, you need to be smart about looking after your needs. Sometimes that will mean getting a job to build a financial buffer. After all we do what it takes.

But giving up when you feel like a failure, means you miss out on the force of nature needed to create success. Tweet It!


Keep on creating

Here are some thoughts on how to stick with the creative process, even when it feels like you’re failing

  • Creativity isn’t constant

Creativity rises and falls, ebbs and flows.  Ideas are born, they collapse, shape shift, require rest.  Creativity reaches a crescendo and then it crashes. Don’t expect yourself to always be ‘on’ in terms of your creative output.  Let it come and go. Breathe life into when it’s there, relax into the space when it’s not.

  • Creativity equals vulnerability

To truly express yourself requires you to go the edges of your vulnerability, and then take another step beyond that. If you are bringing a new creation into the world either a new business idea or a new product or service, be gentle with yourself, let your critic go.  Know that in building your own creative endeavour, you’re crossing a threshold many people never experience in their lives.

Let yourself risk failing, it could be the most successful thing you do.  Tweet it!

  • Creativity thrives on variety

Boredom kills creativity. If your days are filled with doom and dread, it’s going to be harder to fire your creativity.  Boredom sucks the fire out of creativity, but remember this is a different experience to the post creative fallow period, a time of rest and recuperation which allows for the next wave of creativity.  Take a break, get out into nature, play, paint, learn something new.  When you stagnate so does your creativity, and ultimately so does your financial flow.

Here’s to building a business you can thrive in.

With love,


PS Join us for the next free monthly peer group coaching session on July 4th at 12noon UK.  Register here.

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