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  • Writer's pictureLata Hamilton

15 Times I've Failed At Life

Updated: Apr 28, 2023

Social media… my oh my, doesn’t everyone look SO SUCCESSFUL!! I’m proud and privileged when people say they are inspired by my success and my lifestyle.

But like all of us, I’ve had my fair share of failures. So to balance the tables, I thought I’d share 15 of my greatest failures in life. Although sadly not even ONE of my failures is as spectacular a flop as Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened (which is what triggered this article in the first place - watch it!!).

stepping in gum with shoe
Failure... my old friend

My top 15 times I've failed at life

#1 Froze during a speech in primary school

I was in Year 3 and tried to use palm cards for the first time. But there weren’t enough words on the cards to help me remember my speech and I had to give up less than halfway through.

damaged rusty bike broken wheel
Our bike didn't look this bad!

#2 Stacked it on a bike with my sister

Mum always told us not to dinky each other, but I sat on my sister’s handlebars going down the hill to the bus stop one morning anyway. We crashed and staggered home with terrible gravel rash - we still have the scars! But we were so scared mum would get angry for disobeying her we made an elaborate story that my sister ran into me with the bike by accident.

#3 Failed my L’s test the first time round

My 16th birthday was on a Monday and all my friends forgot it, even though I was the first to turn Sweet 16 and had been telling them for days how excited I was to get my L’s. I went to the RTA (now Services NSW) after school and completely bombed my L’s test. I had to go back the next day and resit it!

shiny gold trophy number 1
Ah the glory that was never to be!

#4 Never got a dux award … at 2 primary schools and a high school

I was a smart kid and often topped the class. Getting an end-of-primary school or end-of-high-school dux award was a shiny goal, but due to changing primary schools and new students entering our high school way smarter than me, I never claimed the honour.

#5 Didn’t make it into my university degree

I found a degree that sounded PERFECT. But silly me - it had a super high UAI (now ATAR). I never thought I’d get a UAI that high, and then when I got my HSC and UAI results, they were over my course’s previous year’s entry mark! But my chosen degree had gotten more popular, my UAI wasn’t enough, and I ended up not getting in. Luckily, I got a late round offer.

#6 Never received a scholarship in my life

Despite being a great student, I have actually never once received a scholarship. In fact, I’ve only ever applied for one - for uni - and I wasn’t successful.

woman reading book covering face
Yep... I was a total geek.

#7 Stopped getting shifts in my first ever job

I had been working at a local cafe for years, and after a shift when I was feeling unwell and couldn’t put on the required “customer service smile”, my boss sent me home and then stopped giving me shifts - loyalty, tenure and quality didn’t matter a jot it seemed. It was uni holidays, so I found a job in a city cafe. By the time semester started, my local cafe boss was back in touch finding out when I could work next. I never really trusted her after that, and I left a few months later to get a job using my industry training in media and comms. Best thing I ever did!

#8 Got stranded in Glastonbury with no phone and no money

I was travelling the English countryside by myself and planned to catch the last bus from Glastonbury to the interchange and back to my hostel in Bath. But the bus never came so it looked likely I’d miss my connection. It was before smartphones, and I was a backpacker without enough money to catch a taxi across the countryside or pay for a hotel in Glastonbury. Close to tears, I shared my problem with some lovely ladies at the bus stop who told me about another bus I could take and I made my connection back to Bath.

#9 Almost got put on performance management

I got a TERRIBLE performance and development review one year - my favourite piece of feedback was being “too authentic”. I got no bonus and no pay rise. Which was a shame because I put my heart and soul into that company.

girl reading on floor
Hanging out at home feeling sorry for myself

#10 Had my first pay rise request rejected

When I got my first ever promotion, the pay rise alongside it was dismal. So I attempted to negotiate my first pay rise - extremely unsuccessfully. I left that company shortly after and started a new role earning $20k more.

#11 Injured myself with barefoot running

In an attempt to curb my shin splints whilst training for my first full marathon, I saw a barefoot running coach. I followed the instructions and built up on the grass in thin shoes, but THEN went shopping on hard floors and hurt my feet. So I guess it wasn't barefoot running, so much as barefoot walking. I haven’t run properly in over 4 years and I miss it - I’m slowly healing and building myself back up!

#12 Didn’t have a boyfriend until I was 27

I never had boyfriends as a teenager, and I dated in my early adult years but never got serious with anyone. I was almost 30 before I had what I’d call my first “official” boyfriend.

#13 Ended up working through a 3 month career break

I had planned and saved to take 3 months off for a meditation retreat, beach holiday, and ski trip. But I spent most of the first 6 weeks job hunting like a madwoman. I applied for over 100 jobs in 10 days. Not much of a break!

#14 Burnt my tummy on a cup of relaxation tea

On the morning of the day I’d be doing a Unleash the Power Within firewalk, I sleepily spilt boiling tea on my tummy and ended up with a huge blister. I still have the scar! Ironically, my feet after the firewalk that night… spotless.

steaming tea in a blue ceramic cup with lemon and spoon
Relaxing, this tea, was not!

#15 Made a loss in my business one year

Being an entrepreneur can be tough and it requires an investment of time, money, effort, energy and resilience. I’ve always made money and reported profit in my business, but the year I switched from focusing on individual career coaching to empowering career coaching programs for restructuring teams, I actually made a loss.

The list ends, but life doesn't...

The reason why I so vividly remember these failures through my childhood, teenage years and twenties, is because they have a lot of meaning to me - they shaped me and my life. In Neuro-Linguistic Programming we say, “There is no failure, only feedback”. Did they suck at the time? Yes. But each one truly did serve as feedback - allowing me to adjust myself, or my approach, or my perspective, to make me the person I am today:

  • Because I froze during a speech in primary school… I now speak, present, train and facilitate for a living

  • Because I stacked it on a bike with my sister… I now tell the truth, despite the consequences

  • Because I never got a dux award...I now focus on achievement without competition

  • Because I failed my L’s test the first time round… I now surround myself with positive people

  • Because I stopped getting shifts in my first ever job… I now put myself first in my career and get out of bad conditions

  • Because I never received a scholarship in my life… I now earn my own money and have financial independence

  • Because I didn’t make it into my university degree… I know when things are meant to be, they’re meant to be

  • Because I got stranded in Glastonbury… I crowdsource solutions

  • Because I almost got put on performance management… I now treat myself like a business with my employment

  • Because I had my first pay rise request rejected... I now find roles that pay me what I truly believe I’m worth

  • Because I injured myself with barefoot running… I know the importance of a strong foundation in everything, including health

  • Because I didn’t have a boyfriend until I was 27… I know deeply who I am as an individual

  • Because I ended up working through a 3 month career break… I know that even the best laid plans go awry

  • Because I burnt my tummy on tea… I know that there is nothing to fear, except fear itself

  • Because I made a loss in my business one year… I know that my passion to help teams going through restructures is worth fighting for

girl stretching in sunshine arms open silhouette
Gotta love what life gives... it's always perfect.

I'm Lata Hamilton - Change Leadership and Confidence expert, Founder & CEO of Passion Pioneers, and the creator of the Leading Successful Change program.

Grab my free Underpaid & Overlooked Coaching Action Guide to learn how to change careers with confidence and earn your worth - download it here.


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