Failing Forward and Leaning On

Written by: Lillian Roth

Growing up a perfectionist, I defined success based on the amount of report card A’s, trophies lining the wall and votes on a ballot. I often placed accomplishments before relationships and struggled to see the bigger picture of finding purpose without merit attached. Can any of you overachievers relate?

This battle of finding peace through mastering perfection is impossible to achieve, and only adds to the pile of self-doubt that our society seems to feed off.

Over the past three years, I have had both significant accomplishments and undeniable low points. The try-hard in me wants to label these challenging times as “failures,” but I have recently embraced the mentality of “failing forward.” To me, failing forward is becoming more resilient by learning from failures, rather than expend the exhaustive effort of feeling the need to defend your losses.

This year, I have come to redefine true success. Success is turning hurdles into springboards, discouragement into empowerment, and unmet expectations into refreshed goals. We all have our own circumstances, hardships and struggles that make failing forward difficult and often uncomfortable. The world we live in does not like to wait for the bounce back, and often prematurely anticipates the second downfall. But when you surround yourself with empowering failing forwarders, you can readjust your purpose and redefine success.

I’ve always been a girls’ girl, growing up with only sisters, playing competitive volleyball, and thriving at all-girl programs like Alabama Girls State. Through these experiences and more, I developed a commitment to showing others the importance of women supporting one another, and during my sophomore year was able to work with an organization that shares this mission. In 2015, one of my mentors, Dr. Mary Lee Caldwell, founded Lean On: Alabama. Lean On is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that brings women together to form intergenerational partnerships to promote collaboration, development, and investment in each other and the community. I have had the opportunity to serve on the Student Advisory Council and work to facilitate this mission across The University of Alabama campus and state.

As Lean On has grown over the past two years, we realized the need to expand our advocacy efforts. With my internship being simultaneous, I recommended Dr. Caldwell spark a relationship with Peritus PR, a woman-owned public relations agency committed to supporting organizations making a difference in our community. We had an initial sit-down to discuss the future vision for the organization, and the overall importance of empowering women. Since this inspiring brainstorm, a partnership has formed, and I have had the opportunity to continue these discussions with the amazing women that work at Peritus. Through each team member, from recent graduates to 10-year career veterans, I have learned even more about the role of women in the workforce, importance of supporting one another, and shared vision to equip young women in our industry. My internship at Peritus has been informative and educational, but perhaps more importantly, empowering and inspiring.

My PUBLISHED by Peritus takeaway is this:

Success is subjective and should be redefined to reflect growth and meaningful goals, not completed to-do lists and awards. With the help of incredible women mentors, I have been able to learn from my experiences and support other motivated women in my life as well. We must lean on the women around us to seek purpose and potential as we dare to challenge expectations and fail forward.

WellnessPeritus Intern