• Otto Blac

Success Definition: Personal Failure in Reverse

Our conditioned inner-compass points toward Ladders of Success. But how do you feel looking down at the rungs that broke during the climb?


Shame researcher and Daring Greatly author, Brene Brown reveals a dirty little secret about TED speakers during one of her talks: (transcribed below)



"Do you know what the big secret about TED is? I can't wait to tell people this. I guess I'm doing it right now— This is like the failure conference. No, it is, you know why this place is amazing? Because very few people here are afraid to fail. And no one who gets on the stage, so far that I've seen, has not failed. I have failed miserably many times. I don't think the world understands that. Because of shame."

Brene was also the first to remind us that the difference between shame and guilt is the difference between "I am bad," and "I did something bad."


When self-reflecting, you have permission to shit on yourself or you can create small paradigm shifts. Sometime today, think of some failures you've had to endure to get where you are. What value do you attribute to them?


Personally, my biggest failures occur while navigating design fields. I never wanted to work in film but had already invested so much time and money. I love design thinking and knew there was a place for me to have creative freedom eventually. I had to experience failure in multiple design fields to feel successful, that is, to be here today, owning my geeky black queerness and encouraging others to own their identity.


My failure in reverse was my attempt to be someone else, but coming full circle to a fulfilled sense of self.

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