It’s hard to separate the words (and the concepts represented by the words) grateful and graceful, at least that is what I have found as I’ve been thinking about this article. Here’s one reason,

“In life as in dance: Grace glides on blistered feet.” ~ Alice Abrams.

Hmmm….so when we see the beauty and grace of the dancers, we know that they didn’t just achieve that grace…and they are enduring, very likely, blistered feet even as they dance so magically.

For us, who are not dancers but are seeking grace in other ways, we can be grateful for the opportunities to develop those blisters, that is, those failures, which bring us to various achievements. Maybe this is just how my little mind works, but I see a connection between grace and gratitude…

Anyway, what is graceful failure?

Graceful failure is

  •  Quiet
  •  Elegant
  •  Tranquil
  •  Untroubled
  •  Accepting
  •  Unruffled
  •  Courteous
  •  Seemly

You may have someone in mind who fails gracefully. Several people enter my head, including John McCain on the night that Barack Obama won the election. John McCain was gracious. I heard many people use that word to describe him that evening.

Maybe you know someone - or are someone - who has recently lost a job or a client or a big project. Nearly always, the person who fails gracefully may be dreadfully sad, even depressed, and yet, as they work through that sadness, sense of loss, and depression, they move to the place of elegant, seemly, accepting grace.

Some people move to that place very quickly and for others, it takes longer. There is no timeline for graceful failure. However, it is a place where people who are striving to stay positive even in the middle of stressed out, crazy situations want to go when failure happens, which it does.

Now, here are a couple of things that graceful failure is not:

  • Graceful failure is not blaming - ever. As Elmer Letterman (no relation, I assume, to David Letterman) said, “A man may fall many times, but he won’t be a failure until he says that someone pushed him.” If you find yourself blaming others for your failure, either large or small, know that you are not in a place of graceful failure.
  • Graceful failure is also not fatalistic. You get to choose what you do with your failure. As Henry Ford said: “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”

My guess is that you will have a chance to fail this week. See if you do so gracefully. Imagine the dancers ‘gliding on blistered feet.’

And if you are well aware that you - or those around you - are freaked-out to one degree or another and you can see that it is taking a toll, then you’re invited to join the Staying Positive Society where you can access tools for yourself or your team. Here’s where you can find out all about it:

We have a positive group and would love to have you join us.

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