The Gift of Failure

How do we rebound from life’s failures?

For years I have rehearsed some of my many failures. Some I carry with remorse. Others I have endured with a pain it the pit of my stomach and the thought “Damn, how could I have done that?”

For most failures I have clawed my way to self-compassion and forgiveness. Then today I read the following poem in the latest edition of the Sun Magazine. It helped me not take myself so seriously and recast personal failure as a gift.

I share the poem with you and let you arrive at your own conclusions about your own recovery.

The Diver

by Lynn Davis

Lynn Davis is a writer who lives in North Carolina. “The Diver” is her first published poem (The SUN Magazine), unless you count the one she wrote in sixth grade that everyone teased her about.

The Olympic moment I remember most
Does not involve gold medals
Or bright, enthusiastic faces in the Parade of Nations.
It’s one man, a German,
Who went in for a dive and landed on his back
And scored zeros across the board.
Imagine his disappointment,
Rage, even:
How stupid,
How incredibly stupid.
When I watch the video on YouTube,
I want to thank him
And tell him how much he means to me,
For who among us does not say, Goddamn,
What I could have done different,
What I could have done better.
And isn’t that so much more human:
Our persistent

View the video at


About cedricj

I am a licensed psychologist and management consultant and have always been intrigued by how leaders can inspire people in their organizations. The bottom line is that people are not always motivated by material rewards, the use of the carrot or the stick, fear and intimidation,and command and control, Five human needs inspire and drive us. Kristine S MacKain, Ph.D and myself describe these inspirational forces in our book "What Inspirational Leaders Do" (Kindle 2008)
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