I sat down to write about getting unstuck, but there’s one thing that doesn’t get enough attention…What happens when you get unstuck, do that thing, and fail? Failure hurts no matter how strong you are. How are you changed?

There are some people who think of it like skydiving (like it’s a good thing) and love it. They’re energized by going for it and addicted to trying again and again. Each loss is a stepping stone.

Then there are others. 

People who are crushed. 

Who took a leap and crashed. 

And they hurt.

They felt humiliated. 

Banged up.


They’re tired.

And feel defeated. 



Simply worn down.

Yes, they learn from it, but one of the lessons is to play it a little safer. 


That’s what they deserve.

That’s what they’re capable of.

The big stuff is for someone else. 

No. That’s no way to lead your life. Just no.

It’s a fallacy that some people are meant for success and not others. Simply untrue. Yes, there are people who have extra help, and privilege, and opportunity but you and me? We can still get there. 

In that enormous space between this loss and failure and your next attempt, there’s a big divide to cross. It can feel more like an ocean than a stream. It doesn’t mean you can’t cross it. Build a bridge, a boat, a plane a hydrofoil… do whatever it takes. Even if it takes time to rebuild and start again, you can.

Here’s what I want you to know:

You are smart and capable. 

You cared about something enough to make the leap

Millions of people are too scared to try even once.

To dream the first time. 






Each of these things are there for you. 

There are people who still believe in you even when you stopped believing in yourself. 

There may not be another chance to do this exact same thing again. 

But there will be other opportunities. 

Other things you want and crave. 

And you’re driven to create.

There are things you believe in and can do like a freakin’ rockstar. 

For now, lick your wounds. 

Cry if you want to. 

Then let this loss become fuel for your next success

It’s not a scarlet “A” you wear for the rest of your life. 

Failure is not permanent. It’s not a tattoo that lasts forever. 

It’s a moment in time. 

Move forward and do not allow yourself to live in the past. 

Another thing is around the corner. 

Don’t hide from it. 

Don’t ignore it.

Take a deep breath and try again. 

It’s the person who keeps trying who gets what they want. 

Not the person who goes for it once and disappears.

Everyone has failures, but not everyone has learned that it’s the persistence and resilience that gets you where you want to go. 

Yes, failure hurts. It’s okay.

You’ll be okay.

If you give up on this dream, this opportunity…

Whatever you do, don’t give up on yourself. 

Standardized testing tips for students and leaders

My kids have a big standardized test coming up in a week that will tell us if are they working at, above or below grade level.  Unfortunately, at school, they’ve spent the past months teaching to the test, missing robust ways to help my children understand concepts instead of deducing correct answers.  As I’ve watched them come home daily talking about their preparation, as a leadership coach, I could not help but wonder what positive lessons will they carry with them from this testing experience?  Are there leadership lessons from standardized testing that are being missed in the stress and anxiety of getting a good score?


Leading Innovation to Success

by Alli Polin on December 3, 2013

we love innovation

We love innovation.  We think it’s the most gosh-darn important and super-sexy thing in the world.  We want it and we want it now but oh, we’re not going to fund it fully until we absolutely know that it can work.  Did I mention we kind of like the way things are today?  ~ Anonymous Leader in Almost Any Org