What Ducks Can Teach Us About Overcoming Failure [3 Simple Steps]

by | Work-Life Balance

Benu Creative Let Go Of Mistakes Blog
Have you ever had that moment where you’re banging your head against the wall and wish you could rewind the clock by a few mere minutes because you just made a HUGE mistake?

Yeah, I’ve been there…If you’re anything like me, you tend to lean towards perfectionism.

Usually, my next initial reaction is racking my brain to figure out what I should have done instead.


I’m a planner. I like to have my ducks in a row.

When taking the Strengths Finder test my number one strength was “deliberative.”

Exciting, right?

What I discovered was that my deliberative mindset made me take very calculated choices with minimal risk because I’d thought through every scenario and path there could possibly be.

The problem is that when things don’t go according to plan, I feel like an epic failure.

I find myself repeating asking myself, “How could I have missed it?” “Why did things turn out the way they did?”

For many people, lining up their ducks in a row provides a sense of security and peace of mind.

The advice often given to these personality types is that your ducks don’t have to be in a row to move forward.

This may be true, but not always very helpful in the moment. So what do you do instead?



What I would suggest to anyone who has difficulty dealing with failure, is to actually “be a duck.”

Hmmm…Be a duck? I know what you’re thinking, but trust me, this doesn’t require eating stale bread.

Have you ever really watched a duck? Have you ever noticed that even though they are always immersed in water, the water just rolls off their back?

What about you? When you’re immersed in problems, how well do they roll off?

This method originates from a business owner’s advice at a career event.

Similarly, when you are faced with the feelings of failure, acknowledge it, but let it roll off of you.

Don’t hold on to failures, don’t let them overcome you. Be a duck.

Sounds easy in theory, but here are some practical steps to help you on your way to becoming a duck.


The truth of the matter is, we have very little control over our lives.

You can only ever control your actions, not someone else’s, no matter how hard you may try.

With so many lives colliding and intersecting in one day, how would we ever be able to plan for everything?

Most of us have probably felt the frustration of trying to simply coordinate a time to meet with a group of people.

Ask yourself if you are taking more responsibility for the failure than you should.

You don’t need to carry baggage that isn’t yours.

I do want to stress that this isn’t an outlet to shift blame.

Good leaders take responsibility for what they’ve done – the good and the bad – but that doesn’t mean that you have to take the brunt of it all.


Life should be treated like a slackline rather than a tightrope.

While both based on a similar concept, where you literally walk on a thin line to get from one place to the other, however, the trick of mastering the slackline is to bend your limbs and absorb the motion of the slackline rather than be perfectly in balance like a tightrope.

Just as the duck is always immersed in water yet always manages to stay afloat, as you balance life, don’t let your mistakes tip you off the edge, but utilize them to keep going to the other side.


Every situation, no matter how big or how small, has something positive in it.

While you can’t control other people, you can control your reaction to your mistake.

And you know what? Taking a leap of faith, trying to make a positive difference in someone else’s life, starting something, should be celebrated.

Sometimes the biggest tip in overcoming failure is changing your mindset about what failure is.

Celebrate what you can from your failure. When you do, it’ll be just that much easier to become a duck.



So the next time you make a big mistake, take a deep breath, let it roll off your back, and carry that momentum constructively into your next action.

You never know when something becomes a blessing in disguise.

Life is not just about work, but work should be about life



In this monthly series, we’ll be exploring work/life balance and some hands-on ways to tackle it. Because let’s face it, life is always busy. 

I’d Like to Hear from You

Kelly Shields Benu CreativeWhat’s your #1 takeaway from today’s article? Or what questions do you have about what you read? Either way, I’d love to hear what you have to share so leave me comment below and let’s chat.


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Kellly Shields Benu Creative

Creative Lead | Brand Architect

Kelly Shields is an entrepreneur, educator, and equestrian. She strategically and creatively positions businesses to become successful through branding. In a former life, Kelly was a 3D Apparel Design Specialist for Browzwear, a global 3D software company helping lead the advancement of 3D technology in the apparel industry.

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