Forgiveness Wednesday: Facing Failure

One night last September, I couldn’t sleep. For the first time in 4 years of writing, I thought it was a good idea to teach what I know. I was excited!

I designed the curriculum, marketed it, and pre-sold nearly 100 seats. Over the next few months, I recorded over 100 videos, edited them, and rolled out the course.

That was at the end of February.

Yesterday, I saw an interview with Sam Altman, long-time president of YCombinator, maybe the world’s most famous venture capital fund and startup incubator.

On the subject of picking what to double down on out of many experiments, he says:

“How do you figure out what to commit to and when? This is where it takes brutal honesty with yourself about which projects are actually working and which you would like to convince yourself are working. This is a very hard thing to train yourself to do.

To really step back and dispassionately look and say: ‘Am I desperately trying to convince myself this is working or is this actually working?’ But I think it is a muscle that is buildable. Clearly people get good at it. It's just hard because it means admitting failure in something.”

As soon as I heard that, I knew my course wasn’t working.

The few people who were really raving about it were those who’d already been writing anyway. All the others? Never did anything with it.

And then I saw why: There was no accountability.

It’s a big reference book on writing. A huge box full of videos. But there’s no urgency to implement any of it. No follow-up. No one kicking you to do things.

So, just two months after completing the whole thing, I’ve decided to shut it down.

That’s tough. But it’s the truth. It’s not working. So now, all that’s left is to forgive myself and move on.

It’s not all bad, though! I made some money, I learned to use the infrastructure, I found out I don’t like video as much as writing, and I know accountability is important.

It took some time to face this failure, but now that I’ve accepted it, I can see these good lessons I’ve learned from it.

Forgiveness leads to lessons. Lessons lead to learning. Learning leads to better.

I’m sure I’ll continue to fail many times. But as long as I can forgive myself fast, that won’t matter.

The same is true for you. Maybe, there’s a big failure it’s time to face. The lessons are just waiting for you. Whatever it is, the sooner you accept it, the better.

And today’s a good a day as any.


About Forgiveness Wednesday: No matter how the week starts, by Wednesday, we’ve had enough time to kick ourselves. We’re human. We make mistakes, we regret them, and we blame ourselves. But the only way we can keep moving on is if we forgive ourselves and those around us. So every Wednesday, forgiveness is what we’ll practice.

Let’s be kind to ourselves so we can succeed.

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