Skip to content

To give yourself permission to succeed, you also have to give yourself permission to fail. The truth is that real life has mistakes in it. All creativity, live performance, all real exchanges between people and anything that is authentic, will go wrong now and then. Even the most experienced ritualist will make mistakes. Real life has no airbrushes to hide the flaws, no photoshop to take out the wobbly bits, no editor to polish it. Life is lived in one take, with no pausing, rewinding and redoing options. If we hold ourselves to the standards of polished, professional media, we will be unable to act.

Mistakes are great teachers, if we let ourselves have that opportunity. It does us no harm to be reminded that we are flawed, fallible works in progress. If we can learn to smile at our own errors and other peoples shortcomings too, life is gentler and happier.

The first song you sing, the first dance you learn, the first poem you write will not be the best you are capable of. Nor should we expect them to be. It’s impossible to learn without accepting what we don’t know. The space to be flawed is also the space to grow. Permission to be inadequate now is permission to be much better than this in a year’s time.

If we don’t have to be perfect right now, we are better placed to enjoy whatever we are doing. Experiences become less competitive, we aren’t constantly judging ourselves to see if we made the grade, which makes it easier to appreciate what you can do. If we are only allowed to be happy once we’re perfect, we are not going to be happy in this lifetime. Permission to fail is also permission to enjoy where you are, including the view of the heights you might yet climb to, and the path behind that is everything you’ve done.

It is so easy to hit one setback, one failure and assume that’s it – you won’t ever be good enough at this thing so should give up on it. Permission to fail is permission to strive, to push beyond your apparent limits into something better.

Failure is an enormous challenge. It hits a person deep in their sense of self, it knocks confidence, feeds doubt and anxiety, leaves us exposed, humiliated, hurt and unsure of what we are doing. It takes courage to push past a setback and have another go, but without the willingness to do that, it’s virtually impossible to achieve anything. In failure we can find our courage, our strength and the depth and breadth of our own souls. Permission to fail, is permission to live.

Avatar photo

Nimue Brown is a Druid, author, blogger and celebrant, living on the edge of the Cotswolds, in the UK. She is deeply rooted in the folk tradition, and the landscape of her birth – forest, vale and high blue hill, the winding and treacherous River Severn, the open skies and the ancient dead whose barrows and earthworks are part of this place. Through folk clubs, ritual circles, local creative events and her work with Moon Books, she seeks to create spaces for people to flourish and explore their own creativity. Alongside Druid and Pagan non-fiction texts, Nimue writes poetry, the graphic novel series Hopeless Maine, and assorted fiction titles. She podcasts audio fiction with nerdbong and blogs on a daily basis. Crafting, Steampunk, green living and quiet revolution are all part of her life.

For more information, please visit

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. […] up with some world changing new insight or earth shattering revelation. I’ve talked briefly about giving yourself permission to fail, because in being willing to be less than perfect we give ourselves room to grow. Most of this […]

    1. Thank you! It definitely works, it’s the core of what I do in creative workshops, holding spaces where genuinely if something goes ‘wrong’ it just makes things more interesting.

  2. Permission to fail is permission to live..
    Permission to fail is accepting yourself in the fullness of who you are and who you can be..
    Permission to fail is being kind and loving yourself unconditionally..
    Permission to fail is trying to be less wrong every day..
    Permission to fail is finding out yet another way that you won’t succeed..
    Permission to fail is not looking for someone else’s approval, it’s true acknowledgement of your existence..
    One life that we get to be our authentic self and these three words is at the core of it.

    Thanks Nimue!

    It sounds so simple and so obvious but something that prevents us to “live life” rather than living in our heads and not having lived one in reality.

  3. Ahh, love it! Got this when I really needed it I guess. I am doing a presentation in an international conference in a week time and getting nervous. This came at the perfect time!

  4. It is ludicrous to think we won’t have mis-takes, errors, setbacks, etc. That is all part of the learning process. Thanks for the good reminder that failing’ is part of succeeding.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *