My sketchy life – failing my way to success

Sara Blakely’s embrace of failure has helped make her the youngest self-made female billionaire in America.  She invented Spanx (body-shaping undergarments – the modern version of the corset and girdle).

When she was growing up, her father would often ask her the same question at dinnertime.

“What have you failed at this week?”

I was AGHAST – failure!? What a horrible father.  Everyone knows we are supposed to focus on and revel in success.  She went on to say:

“My dad growing up encouraged me and my brother to fail. The gift he was giving me is that failure is (when you are) not trying versus the outcome. It’s really allowed me to be much freer in trying things and spreading my wings in life.”

What a novel idea! Embrace failure as a sign of taking risks, learning and growing. Failure is a victory not a defeat.

“The fact that I had never taken a business class, had no training, didn’t know how retail worked,” she said. “I wasn’t as intimidated as I should have been.”

I read her interview just before my life drawing class.  It was liberating!!  I gave myself permission to fail at trying to draw perfect likeness, perfect proportions, perfect shading.  

Graphite Pencil Sketch

Graphite Pencil Sketches



My new motto:  Fail Away! 

 . . . it’s never too late to become the oldest self-made billionaire in the United States.

I fail to understand her conclusions . . . that must make me a success . . .

She never fails to confound me . . .


6 comments on “My sketchy life – failing my way to success

    • Anonymous,
      I usually delete anonymous comments that I can’t trace back to real-people (as opposed to spam-people) but your comment about “losing is good, too” deserves an “approve” (especially in this election cycle).


    • Jacqui,
      WONDERFUL to hear that educators are not rewarding just for finding the right answer but also helping students learn from what didn’t quite work. Wish I had had that point of view when I was in school. I know i’ve avoided trying new things because I think I need to do it “right” the first time out-of-the-box.


  1. I taught my students and my sons: you will not learn to ride a horse if you are afraid of falling off.
    (Not so good at following my own advice however.)

    Your drawings get better each week, Judy. There’s a lot of life in your lines, and honesty in the way flesh drapes around the bones, puddles, and leans on nearby surfaces. You aren’t drawing cartoon people but real ones. Also like the different weights in your lines – some thick and powerful, others delicate and nearly disappearing.


    • Shari,
      Love the horsey advice. I fear we all teach what we need to learn. That was clearly apparent to me as a therapist. I needed to hear my own advice.

      Thank you for the wonderful and thoughtful feedback on my drawings. I love that you point out what I need to keep doing artistically – you are an excellent teacher and I take your observations and try to make them my own.


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