Book of the Week: How to Fail – Everything I’ve Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong

“Life crises have a way of doing that: they strip you of your old certainties and throw you into chaos. The only way to survive is to surrender to the process. When you emerge, blinking, into the light, you have to rebuild what you thought you knew about yourself.”
– Elizabeth Day, How to Fail: Everything I’ve Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong

I’ve grown very fond of Elizabeth Day. (I write as though I know her personally, I do not.)
Though after listening to her podcast, How to Fail with Elizabeth Day, for several years, and reading this book, I feel like I do. She’s pretty great.

I’ve turned to her podcast on countless occasions in times of need, for comfort and a mood boost. (Never more so than during particularly depressing moments behind a photocopier. I once worked in admin at a law firm, much of the role was photocopying, hence the need for stimulation.)
Not only did she alleviate my boredom with her interesting guests and brilliant interviewing, I also just liked the calming, soothing tones of her voice. (The voice I’d heard so much, it basically narrated the entire book inside my head as I read.)

How to Fail is part memoir, part manifesto. Warm, vulnerable and humorous, Day recounts her tales of failure with chapters on failing at relationships, work, dating, babies, anger, success and more. The book and podcast are based on the notion that “understanding why we fail ultimately makes us stronger”.
She challenges our perception of success and failure, encouraging the reader to be mindful of our reaction to both.

“If you can remove your ego from a process, then there really isn’t any difference between success and failure. They’re just both parts of a process. And that you shouldn’t look at a failure as something terrible, it just is what it is and you shouldn’t look at success as something great, it just is what it is.”
– Elizabeth Day

1 Comment

  1. loved reading your post.

    Here is what I think
    I really liked this book. It’s really helpful to know that there is no such thing as a “failure” – it’s just a part of the process of being alive. I especially liked the section on how to deal with failure – it was so helpful to have something to look back on and know that I didn’t let my guard down and lose focus.
    Thanks, Ely


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