Urban Campfire: Acknowledging Failure and Wiping the Slate Clean


Urban Campfire is happening today (August 21, 2014) in Seattle!  This is a unique gathering of women that I am proud to sponsor.  Below are a few of my thoughts as I prepared for a previous gathering.  I look forward to continued insights and s’mores with everyone!

As I prepare for Urban Campfire, I’m digging deep to acknowledge my failures from my past.  Even with all of the personal transformation I’ve gone through over the past year, it’s still not easy to think failure. In the language of Temenos, this is called Clean Slate.

Here’s one of the questions posed to wipe your slate clean:

How have I failed my containers?

“The container can be thought of in this context as the space, energy and interactions created between people.”


I have created myths of my father and my grandmother.  I attribute so much of who I am to these two individuals.  When I tell stories about my Dad and Grammy, they’re always positive and full of love.  I leave out any of the bad stuff.  It’s not that there wasn’t any bad stuff.  I just choose to ignore it.  And, I’m actually ok with the myths I’ve created.

I’ve failed people close to me. I’m not allowing my father and grandmother to be ordinary human beings, with ordinary human failings. Because they are such strong influences in my life, I build up unrealistic expectations for everyone close to me.


I make excuses for my mother.  My mother and I have had a tumultuous relationship over the years.  There have been periods of deep pain and suffering between us, periods of estrangement, periods of gross misunderstandings.  I rarely tell these stories of my mother.  When I do, I always say “It’s ok, because…”  But, it’s not ok.

I’ve failed myself. I have developed an enormous capacity to absorb pain and suffering.  Instead of saying “it’s not ok”, I either withdraw or just take care of things, ignoring the true impact this has on me.

Unyielding Moral Dilemma

I have been fired by 2 of the 3 employers I’ve worked for over the past 30 years.  Both times, I reached a point where I took a firm stand for what I believed in.  The unfortunate part in this is that I didn’t bother bringing anyone else into this conversation.  I kept the conversations all in my head.

I failed my employers. I place myself at the center of my one-sided conversations. It works best that way because I have already worked out the outcome.  However, the outcome in my head rarely matches the true outcome.

Distractions and Self-Sabotage

My behavior has prevented me from achieving and realizing my true value in the market. I follow my distractions when I should remain focused on my purpose.  I find openings, or “cracks,”  for self-sabotage that I justify through my one-sided conversations.

I failed my professional community. After 30 years in IT, I’ve taken from the community, but I haven’t given back.  I’ve convinced myself that giving to my clients is enough.  But, it’s not enough.

Achieving a clean slate can teach us so much about ourselves. By acknowledging our patterns of success and self sabotage, we can start to change our behavior and spark a positive transformation in our lives, both professionally and personally.