Fiona Blayney: The silver linings playbook

Sometimes it can be hard to find the silver lining when you fail at something. But as Fiona Blayney explains, there are some steps you can take to make the best of a bad situation. Fiona reveals how you can 'sieve and save' the lessons when the silver lining is not so obvious.

You win some, you lose some. You get knocked down, you get back up again. Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. 

The list of anecdotes is just as long as the references found in any self-help book, so why do we struggle with failure so much?

Why do we battle it when the experts tell us how wonderful it is and that there’s always a silver lining?

A day where ‘failure’ has led me to instantly conduct a happy dance under a rainbow in the glistening sunshine of life, I cannot recall.

How can you bask in excitement when you have lost face, funds, market, respect, status, or pride?

It takes time to see the upside. 

It’s easy to think successful people have some kind of Teflon coating when dealing with failure.

I remember times when things didn’t go according to plan and the instant feeling of disappointment, even sadness, embarrassment, anger and frustration that comes along with it.

It’s not Teflon coating that gets me to dust myself off and try again or stare failure in the face and keep going.

It’s a mindset derived from a firm understanding of myself and the process I work through when I fail.

It allows me to put the situation through a sieve, keep the learnings, leave the emotion behind, and move on.

I’ll admit, at times, it’s tough to do, but it’s a necessity if you want to succeed. 

I thought it might help you create your own failure sieve if you know what’s in mine. 

Hippo time

Depending on the significance of the failure, I might need a little hippo time.

What’s hippo time? It means time to wallow in the mud of emotion for a minute or two or more.

Hippo time is reserved for the big falls, not just scraping a knee.

I have learnt when it’s needed and when there is no time for wallowing in mud.

As a leader, if we fail as a team, there’s no group mud bath, I can assure you.

I grab some ropes, pull the team out of that pit straight away, and move into reflection mode. 

Reflection mode

This is a good long look at yourself in the mirror, with no filter, no mood lighting, and no makeup.

A magnifying mirror is the best sort to use. Examine what happened and what led to the failure.

Could you have prompted a different outcome with the information you had?

What could you have done differently? Will you try again, or is there a logical reason to put this goal out to pasture?

This is not about blame, it’s purely about observing.

Look for patterns

I love a little CSI. Find the pattern, and unpack the puzzle.

What’s not working – is it me, someone else, or the process? Look closely to see if you can find any common themes in your successes and your failures.

Take a long-term view on this. I am still reviewing failures and successes over my lifetime to see if I can improve the results for the future. 

Insights and patterns appear from your personal life, personality, and professional world that, mapped together, can direct you to replicate, improve, or remove. 

Be you

Continuous improvement, learning and development are paramount for me. I believe in daily evolution.

More importantly, I become clearer every day as to who I am.

I love me. I know what is important to me, and what I want, and I am successful when I stay true to myself.

When I veer off course or find myself rattled by another person’s plans or goals, I fail. 

Embrace failure

Love is not a word I use to describe my relationship with failure, it’s more of an embrace. 

Failure has become part of my journey, but it’s the imperfections of my story that make it interesting, fun and make the successes so much sweeter. 

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Fiona Blayney

Fiona Blayney is the founder and director of Real+, an industry first Property Management learning platform. For more info visit