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5 Golden Rules: Failure and Doubt


This post is part of 12 Days of Blogging 2010: 5 Golden Rules. Make sure you check out the rest of the series for more awesome advice from bloggers around the world!

We all fail.

I’ll say it again, because it’s important. We all fail.

The best bloggers among us cry. And scream. And want to quit. The best bloggers among us also don’t. Quit, that is. They take time to reflect on their failures and analyze what they can do better. The best bloggers among us learn to stop listening to the self-doubt and to grow.

You are not alone, and more importantly, you are not defeated. Unless you want to be.

1. The Failure Manifesto by Erica Douglass

When i read Erica’s post for the first time earlier this year I think it was the first time I’ve felt not-so-alone in terms of failing as a blogger. People can tell me I’m not a failure until they’re blue in the face, but the face of the matter is that I often am a failure. And this post made that okay. If Erica, who is someone that created a million-dollar business before she was thirty, feels like a failure sometimes, than others probably do as well. Just because we all put on a happy face doesn’t mean that we don’t all feel like complete crap some days.

From Erica’s post:

I have a super strong personality. But I am not able to handle it 100% of the time. Today was one of those days where I could not handle it. Could not push Send on the email blast, because I didn’t want the blowback.

Instead, I write this. I break down the walls a little bit between you and me. Underneath the steel armor exterior, I am a person. And the words hurt. The refunds hurt. The refunds are the worst part. I take them very personally. If you’ve ever refunded a product you’ve bought from me for more than $100, I’ve cried about it. About you. I’ve wondered what the heck I ever did to hurt you.

Check out Erica’s blog for the full post and follow her on Twitter @ericabiz.

2. On Faces and Eyes, Specifically Mine by Miss Britt

Meeting Miss Britt was one of the serendipitous happenings so common at BlogWorld. I know that she was not with our group at lunch on my last day in Vegas. I know we picked her up somewhere along the way by the time we were all heading to the Problogger party that evening. Hell if I know when it happened, but suddenly she was there and we were friends. I think that’s kind of how it is with Miss Britt. She just shows up in your life like an unexpected gift and you’re friends, like it’s a fact of the universe.

I looked her up when I got home, of course, and promptly cried when I read this post. Then I cried again when I was compiling this list and read it a second time. Why? Because I’ve felt this way too, not about my eyes but about other things. And it’s funny…I’m always so caught up in my own flaws that I don’t really notice the flaws other people see in themselves. I mean, I notice them, but they don’t really register to me as flaws. I somehow only see differences as flaws when they’re in myself.

But I’m rambling. From Miss Britt’s post:

I picked through my brain to recall someone I knew who was not beautiful, someone whose differences were so hideous that they couldn’t be denied as flaws.  None.  Not a one.Was it possible that I was a supernatural magnet for attractive people?  Why is it that most of the most beautiful people I know have shared with me some perceived flaw they see when they look in the mirror?

Could it be that differences – even differences like crossed eyes – really were just things that were?  Could it be that these differences weren’t automatically judged as good or bad by all, but that they were taken in and weighed as part of the greater whole?  Could it be that while some would toss me into The Bad pile, that others would not have to struggle to see me as beautiful?  Could it be that the whichever route they chose was a reflection on them, and not me?

Go read the full post. Go read all of Miss Brit’s blog. Go follow her on Twitter @missbritt. Because, my friends, you won’t find a more beautiful person out there.

3. Bippity Boppity Bullshit: Lessons from Cinderella, Midnight & Moxie by Marissa Bracke

This post is everything I want to say about failure, but written in a much better way than I could ever say it. As Marissa points out, the stars will never align. It isn’t about sitting around and waiting for things to be perfect; it’s about picking yourself up and making things happen. The Cinderella story is just a fairy tale. In real life, we need to take matters into our own hands instead of wondering when some kind of magical godmother will show up. From the post:

I’m realizing that there will never be a point in time where all of the bippities will be boppitied at the same time… there will always be something that’s not quite fully transformed, and there will always be something that’s in the twilight of its transformation and about to need some new attention and tweaking.

I’m also realizing that there will never be a point in time when I will need a post-Fairy-Godmother perfect scenario to get to the damn ball. Sure, it’d be nice… but not necessary.

You can read the full post at Marissa’s blog and follow her on Twitter @marissabracke.

4. Criticism: It Doesn’t Have To Be a Little Shop of Horrors by Kelly Diels at Cleavage

I suppose I’m lucky in that my first dance with professional blogging away from a client or network blog (i.e., blogs not owned by moi) was in an industry where you have to learn to have thick skin – video games. If you report the news, you run the risk of getting eaten alive, so you can image what happens when you post an opinion piece. I got all the crying and anger out of my system with that blog, and although unexpected criticism hurts – a lot sometimes – I’m less sensitive to it than many bloggers.

Kelly Diels covers this topic really well at Cleavage, so I wanted to highlight her post. As bloggers, we have to be prepared to face criticism, and often times, we can learn and grow, even from venomous comments. From her post:

And blogs are conversation, right? Not all conversations will fly on the whispering wings of butterflies and hummingbirds.  Sometimes it won’t be pretty.

Not only that, but I live, breathe and write social commentary. Public critique is a boomerang: if I’m going to throw it, it will come back to me.

I realized I’ve got to be prepared for the slings and arrows of outrageous (lack of) manners. The need to move from rice-paper-thin skin to at least a manila-thick epidermis is urgent. (Having a cardboard – or kevlar – hide would be even better.)

Check out Cleavage for more from Kelly and follow her on Twitter @kellydiels.

5. Why I Sucked at SXSW So You Don’t Have to by Chris Garrett

One of the reasons I admire Chris Garrett so much is that he is totally honest with readers, especially about his failures (and perceived failures). Chris is a self-proclaimed introvert, which is something that I relate to, and reading him talk about his experiences makes me feel not so alone. In this post, he not only talks about what he wishes he would have done different at SXSW 2010, but also about what any attendee (to any conference really) can do to avoid common missteps. Writes Chris:

One of the harsh lessons we learn at high school is that there are social cliques and most of those cliques appear cooler than the one you are in. It can be tempting to do anything it takes to break into or gain acceptance from these social circles, without realizing that in the process your desperation is self defeating. There are various symptoms of this, from one guy asking a social media guru to help you get to the front of the Mashable party line, through to a lady attempting to bump and grind against another guru so she could get … um, more friendly. Meeting new people is a good thing, and by all means introduce yourself to people who you want to meet, they will be glad to get to know you. But if people walk away, are deep in conversation, were trying to use the rest room, or start asking how to get a quickie restraining order … well, it might be time to find another target.

You can read more from Chris at his blog or follow him on Twitter @chrisgarrett.

Over to you all – leave a comment linking to your post about failure/self-doubt or tell us about a time when you’ve felt like a failure (and what you did to overcome it).

This post is part of the 12 Days of Blogging Series. The 5 Golden Rules are:

You can also check out all of the posts in this series here: 12 Days of Blogging 2010


  • Erica Douglass

    Thanks, Alli! 🙂 I’m glad I could help you feel less alone.


  • Miss Britt

    I’m so honored to be included here – and tickled to death that we somehow met up at BlogWorld!

    • Alli

      Hahah, seriously, when did you meet up with us that day? All I remember is that suddenly we were holding a conversation on the way to the Problogger party and I don’t think I even properly introduced myself!

      • Miss Britt

        Actually? I think we met AT the Problogger party! I probably introduced myself as “Hi, I know no one here, I’m going to stand in your circle and pretend like we know each other.”

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