3 Types of Successes People Rarely Stop to Recognize, including Failure!

Ben Renshaw in his mini-book, The Secrets of Happiness says that, "On average by the age of eighteen we will have been praised and encouraged 30,000 times - and most of this ... by the time we are three. By contrast we will have been criticised and discouraged over 250,000 times." Well, it's no wonder we're so focused on what goes wrong!

Not only that but for most of us growing up, our parents and teachers focus on our lowest scores, our mistakes and our failures - so that we can 'improve'. Then, when we make it into the workplace, reviews with our bosses focus on where we're not good enough, what we haven't finished and where we need to do better.

Society measures our worth and success based on our accomplishments (what we have finished!) and sees mistakes as failures to be avoided. In addition, big successes are celebrated, but smaller more personal successes often get brushed aside as we move onto the next, bigger and better thing...

Well, as coaches we can help undo this trend - by taking the time to celebrate success with our clients. AND as part of this process it's also key that we help our clients redefine and reconsider what's WORTH celebrating! Let's expand from the  'traditional' successes like getting a pay-rise or running a marathon to include ANYthing they are proud of. If something FEELS like an achievement, it should be included. Not only that, but when we overcome a challenge in our lives - this should also be celebrated.

Here are 3 Types of Success People Rarely Stop to Recognize:

  1. Concrete steps taken towards larger goals. We're often so focused on the end-goal, we don't recognize the essential smaller achievements we're making on the way there.
    • Ask: "What smaller steps have you taken that have moved you closer to your goals?"
    • QUOTE: "Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant." Robert Louis Stevenson
  2. Successes of PERSONAL value, but not necessarily recognized by others. These are things that a wider society might not applaud us for, but are nevertheless important to us - unique achievements of ANY size that are significant to us.
    • Ask: "What are YOU proud of - however irrelevant it may seem or how small it may seem to others?" Then ask, "What does this mean to you?" and "What values did you meet?"
    • EXAMPLES: Dealing with a relationship break-up. Standing up to a friend or boss who has been bullying us. Learning a new skill (Recently I learned to cook meringues - I'd always been afraid I won't be able to do them. Importantly, I proved my inner critic wrong).
    • QUOTE: "Don't worry about doing great things… just do little things with great heart"  Mother Teresa
  3. Our failures AND mistakes. Overcoming failures and mistakes MUST be celebrated.  If we have failed - it is because we risked and it is only by risking that we make changes in our lives. Plus, when we reject our mistakes and failures we also reject a part of ourselves.
    • Ask: "What mistakes have you learned and grown from?", "What did you learn?" and, "What are you proud of?"
    • EXAMPLE: I launched "Bite-Sized Life Coaching", realising afterwards that I wanted an owl in the branding AND that I preferred the name "Life Coach on the Go". I rebranded and relaunched the same website, just 2 months later. I learned to follow my intuition next time, and am proud of myself that I had the courage, determination and self-belief to relaunch!
    • QUOTE: "You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face." Eleanor Roosevelt

Suggestion: Set up a session to help your client celebrate their success - and honour themselves. And remember you're not only celebrating, you're reframing success and failure - and building clients' self-esteem too!

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Emma-Louise Elsey Headshot

Contributing Author:

Emma-Louise Elsey has been coaching since 2003 and is the Founder of The Coaching Tools Company and Fierce Kindness.com. She's passionate about coaching and personal development. Originally a project and relationship manager for Fortune 500 companies she combined her love of coaching, creativity and systems to create over 100 brandable coaching tools, forms and exercises including 30+ completely free coaching tools. She now serves coaches and the coaching world through her exclusive newsletter for coaches, Coaches Helping Coaches Facebook Group and many other great tools, resources and ideas for your coaching toolbox. The Coaching Tools Company is an official ICF Business Solutions Partner.

Learn more about Emma-Louise & see all their articles here >>


  1. Stephen Kiwilifecoach

    Thank you for this site Packed with great and relevant information which I will slowly work through. Im about to launch my Life Coaching Business this year and there is alot of prep to do. Stephen

    • Emma-Louise

      Glad you like it Stephen! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment - and Good Luck with launching your business! Warmly, EL

  2. Dee Evans

    Hi Emma! A great way to create a habit of celebrating wins and shift our vibrational frequency to a higher level, is to wrap your day with an EODA or End of Day Achievement record. It is also a powerful way to begin a new day by spring boarding from yesterday’s wins.

    • Emma-Louise

      Hi Dee! Thank-you for your comment - I like the idea of your EODA! I did something similar for a while and found it helpful. It is a great way to focus on all you HAVE achieved, rather than what you have NOT (which was my habit for a while!). Warmly, Emma-Louise


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