03 Apr

Teaching kids how to deal with failure

Let’s see an example of dealing with failure-

Sara Blakely founded Spanx in her late 20s. The company made $4 million in sales in its first year and $10 million in its second year. In 2012, Forbes named Blakely the youngest self-made woman billionaire in the world. Sara Blakely (born February 27, 1971) is an American billionaire businesswoman, and founder of Spanx, an American intimate apparel company with pants and leggings. In 2012, Blakely was named in Time magazine’s “Time 100” annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. As of 2014, she is listed as the 93rd most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.

Although she initially planned to become an attorney, she reconsidered after placing very low on the Law School Admission Test; she instead accepted a job at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, where she worked for three months. She also occasionally worked as a stand-up comedian during this period.
After her short stint at Disney, Blakely accepted a job with office supply company Danka, where she sold fax machines door-to-door. She was quite successful in sales and was promoted to national sales trainer at the age of 25. Forced to wear pantyhose in the hot Floridian climate for her sales role, Blakely disliked the appearance of the seamed foot while wearing open-toed shoes, but liked the way that the control-top model eliminated panty lines and made her body appear firmer.

For her attendance at a private party, she experimented by cutting off the feet of her pantyhose while wearing them under a new pair of slacks and found that the pantyhose continuously rolled up her legs, but she also achieved the desired result (the original pants are now enshrined at Spanx headquarters).

At age 27, Blakely relocated to Atlanta, Georgia, and while still working at Danka, spent the next two years and $5,000 savings researching and developing her hosiery idea.

Blakely then drove to North Carolina, the location of most of America’s hosiery mills, to present her idea. She was turned away by every representative; these companies were used to dealing with established companies and did not see the value of her idea. Two weeks after arriving home from her North Carolina trip, Blakely received a call from a male mill operator based in Asheboro, North Carolina, who offered to support Blakely’s concept, as he had received strong encouragement from his three daughters. Blakely further explained in 2011 that the experience of developing her idea also revealed to her that the hosiery manufacturing industry was overseen solely by men who were not using the products they were producing.

The creation of the initial product prototype was completed over the course of a year.
Blakely then returned to a patent attorney to finalize her application prior to her submission to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and he agreed to assist Blakely for a sum of US$750. Following the submission of the online application, Blakely then worked on the packaging of her product.

Blakely then used her credit card to purchase the “Spanx” trademark on the USPTO website for US$150.
Blakely managed to arrange a meeting with a representative of the Neiman Marcus Group, at which she changed into the product in the ladies restroom in the presence of the Neiman Marcus buyer to prove the benefits of her innovation. Blakely’s product was sold in seven Neiman Marcus stores as a result of the meeting; Bloomingdales, Saks, and Bergdorf Goodman soon followed. At around this time, Blakely sent a basket of products to Oprah Winfrey‘s television program, with a gift card that explained what she was attempting to develop.

Blakely initially handled all aspects of the business, including marketing, logistics and product positioning, preferring the location of Spanx alongside shoes in retail outlets, rather than in hosiery sections. Her boyfriend at the time, a healthcare consultant, later resigned from his job and joined Blakely in the running of the nascent business. Blakely was contacting friends and acquaintances, including those from her past, and asking them to seek out her products at select department stores in exchange for a check that she would send to them by mail as a token of appreciation.

In November 2000, Winfrey named Spanx a “Favorite Thing”, leading to a significant rise in popularity and sales, as well as Blakely’s resignation from Danka. Spanx achieved US$4 million in sales in its first year and US$10 million in sales in its second year. In 2001, Blakely signed a contract with QVC, the home shopping channel, and sold 8000 pairs in the first six minutes of operation.

In October 2013, Blakely explained that her ambition is to design the world’s most comfortable high-heel shoe prior to retirement. As of 2014, she is listed as the 93rd most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.
Sarah Blakely is clearly massively successful. Yet when asked about the best advice she ever received, she doesn’t talk about what Richard Branson told her. By the way, he funded her and they even do philanthropy together.
Instead, she talks about how, every week, her father would ask her the same question: “What did you fail at this week?”

He didn’t want to know about her friends. He did not want to know if she had a crush. He did not want to know, how many marks she had scored. No, he wanted to know what she had failed at. And every time she told him about a failure, he gave her a high-five.

Think about that for a minute:

Every week growing up, her father made her reflect on something she’d failed at, then showed her that not only was she still loved after failing, but she was celebrated for it.
Do you know what that means? To make her feel since she had given her best, even if she failed, it was absolutely ok. Do you know what this did to her? It made her open to experimenting. It made her open to search for answers even when they took time in coming.
It made her understand, dealing with failure is not a disaster. Stopping after failure is. It gave her the security in knowing, she will be LOVED, no matter what.

Teaching kids dealing with failure

In an interview for Fortune, Blakely said, “I didn’t realize at the time how much this advice would define not only my future but my definition of failure. I have realized as an entrepreneur that so many people don’t pursue their idea because they were scared or afraid of what could happen. My dad taught me that failing simply just leads you to the next great thing.”
Psst..by the way, Blakely herself failed the LSAT twice before founding Spanx. It is not about protecting our children against failures. Parenting is all about showing them how to deal with failures without any loss of enthusiasm.
Thank you Sara’s dad for teaching us the real way for dealing with failure.

Why is dealing with failure so important?

Dealing with failure tell us where we went wrong and gives us a chance to improve. If you can’t handle failure, you might just stand up and leave. If you know how to deal with failure, you will not give up. You will try to prove that your way of doing something is not wrong, it just needs some improvisations. A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there. You cannot live in your comfort zones. You need to learn to come out of it.

How to deal with failure?

  1. There’s no failure, only feedback-
    There is no failure. You never really fail at something. You just didn’t know how to do that and you did it anyways but it didn’t give you the desired result. There is only feedback. You will always get some feedback about doing things in a certain way. Learn to see the feedback in failure.
  2. Positive Intentions-
    Whenever something negative happens, we all just see the negative part. We fail to realize that there is always something positive to take from every negative outcome. Whatever challenges they face, teach them to take everything in a positive way. 

These are some way you can teach your kids how to deal with failure. Let them understand and you understand their perspectives too.

Dealing with failure might be tough but it’s necessary for self-growth and improvement. Dealing with failure is a way to know your worth.

Parenting Coach/Expert @ WOW Parenting Naren is a dreamer and a people lover. An unshakable optimist, he strives towards building a better world where everyone has a beautiful story to tell. He strongly believes that incredible parenting can change every human being’s life journey to something phenomenal. And that is his “Why” for building Wow Parenting.


  1. April 3, 2018

    So very important parenting lesson.

  2. April 3, 2018

    Good to know about Sarah Blakley and her story. It can be a good lesson for kids.

  3. April 4, 2018

    Indeed, failures are one of harsh reality of life, and our kids should need to learn how to deal with it. great post. please read my post for #HomeopathyA2Z herehttps://surbhiprapannablogs.blogspot.com/2018/04/blogchattera2z-homoeopathya2z-d.html

  4. April 4, 2018

    This is the lesson that we should teach our kids. I guess I would start doing the same with my son. Lovely post.

  5. April 13, 2018

    It’s an inspiring story of Blakely. A hero I must say.

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