On Becoming a Better Failure: How Failure Stories Can Shape Our Identities


  • Lindsey M. Ward


Failure sharing promotes an essential normalization of failure as a part of everyone’s identity as well as a natural retraining of how we assign blame and reason to our own future failures. Three lessons on failure sharing help us construct identities that include a healthy concept of failure: failure hurts, but normalizing it reduces emotional pain; we learn from others’ failures differently than from our own; and minor failures can offer healthy lessons as well as major ones. It is healthy and important to share failure stories for the development of identities that are not dependent solely upon success as a primary indicator of who we are but include failure as a normal, significant, and even good part of human existence.


Lindsey M. Ward, Assistant Professor of Young Adult Formation at the University of Dubuque, invests in students’ lives through courses that help them discover and live into their purpose and calling in a complex and complicated world, lessons she also hopes to instill in her three young children. She holds an EdD from Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin.