The secret to being okay with failure

You know those motivational posters that people in the corporate world l-o-o-ve to frame and hang in their sad, gray offices?

With soaring bald eagles? Babbling brooks? Snowy mountain tops? Stuff like that?

Those posters usually say something like:

Achievement: “It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.” ~Theodore Roosevelt

Annnd those posters probably make you cringe. So cheesy, right?

I mean, the words sound good, but who really believes all that baloney?

Failure sucks. There’s no way around it. It’s costly, it’s frustrating, and it rarely feels like a joyful “post on the road to achievement.”

Or so I thought.

See, my attitude towards failure has changed—dramatically.

And it all happened once I discovered the secret to “being okay” with failure. Ready? Here it is:

The secret to “being okay” with failure is …

… having so much freaking fun in your work that you don’t even notice if you’re “winning” or not.


You might be thinking, “Melissa … c’mon. That’s just more ‘motivational poster’ BS. Nobody really feels that way about failure!”

You’re right. Most people don’t.

In fact, most people, especially business owners, are deathly afraid of failing.

Our minds are plagued with (irrational) thoughts like:

“What will people think of me if my next Instagram post only gets 20 likes? Kill me now!”

“I’ll be sooo disappointed in myself—I’ll never forgive myself if this online course isn’t an instant 6-figure success!”

“I spent all that money, and it didn’t translate into immediate profit—omg, how will I survive???”

All of those thoughts are totally depressing. They stop you from taking creative risks—risks that could eventually lead to major success! More importantly, they stop you from having fun.

Which is the ultimate antidote to failure.

And this isn’t hypothetical. I’m living proof.

In fact, I’m headed for disastrous failure right now—and I’m loving every minute of it.

This year, I decided to write a novel. It’s intended for a teen audience, and it’s like an edgier take on Twilight meets Gossip Girl (minus the vampires). A total guilty pleasure.

My big, crazy dream is that I’ll sell the novel as a trilogy, that some huge movie studio will scoop up the rights, and I’ll have a blockbuster franchise on my hands. Oh, and did I mention who I want to direct the movies?

I’ve never written a novel before. I have no idea if any publisher will buy it, or want to make it into a trilogy if they do. The chances of even one book getting published and then optioned by a movie studio… very, very small. My dream director, Ben Affleck? He has never directed, nor worked on anything remotely close to a paranormal romance for horny teenagers. Also, he still hasn’t replied to any of my adoring tweets. (When, Ben, when?!)

Simply put, I might fail. In fact, I fully intend to fail.

But that’s not stopping me—because I’m having a freaking blast with this project. Waking up at midnight with flashes of inspiration… ducking out at 3pm to pen gripping chapters at a coffee shop… gabbing to my girlfriends about the latest character developments… it’s sooo good.

This almost-certainly-destined-to-fail project is turning me on—and the good vibes are spilling over into every area of my life and business. Why quit now?

I’m nearly finished the draft of the novel. I hired a developmental editor who is helping me with structure, character, plot, and other novel-writing goodness. When it’s finished, I will work my six-degrees of separation contacts and pitch tons of agents and publishers. And, if I ever make it to a meeting, I’ll show up fully and passionately pitch my project. Then I’ll do everything in my power to make the novel a success so it’s attractive to a movie studio. Then I’ll work hard to negotiate rights so I can pen the screenplay, too. Then I’ll linger around Pacific Palisades like a tabloid and hope Ben Affleck wanders out of his house to get coffee so I can ambush him (in a totally legal, non-creepy way of course ;-))

And, if I fail?

I’ll just self-publish the novel. Then I’ll give it to my 10 friends who’ve been totally supportive of the idea, from day one. And they’ll lap up every word.

I’m not married to a specific outcome. I don’t care what other people think if I fail. Money wasted? Not when I get to play full-out with a passion project. This is my life. And dammit, I’m here to savor every drop.

Oat milk latte with an extra shot of failure? Bring. It. On.