By Kawania H. Wooten CMP

Not too long ago, my son’s alma mater, DeMatha Catholic High School, celebrated the #1 NBA draft pick of one of its own, Markelle Fultz. On the night of the NBA draft, there were numerous stories profiling Markelle’s young basketball life, but the one recurring profile told the story of him getting cut from DeMatha’s basketball team when he was a sophomore.  Of course, he eventually made the varsity team again and excelled.

We love to celebrate athletes and celebrities when they overcome a major setback, but how about our own stories? I started Howerton+Wooten Events 10 years ago because I was out of a job after I got (gulp) fired. When I first lost my job, I used to gloss over the fact that I got fired because I was so embarrassed by it, but I eventually pulled myself together and started a fresh new path that worked out pretty well for me.  Years later, my business received its first bad review. Goodness! Call me melodramatic, but that review hurt me so bad! I was positive it was going to break me. It didn’t. I woke up the next morning a little wounded and a little emotional, but I was still standing. So, I returned to work (without fanfare) and started the process of rebuilding my customer care policy and rebuilding my self-esteem.

Of course, other setbacks have occurred since then, but I no longer allow them to wound me in such an intense manner. In fact, my company and I are better off because of the setbacks. Instead of “glossing over” failures, I have learned to own our mistakes and adjust accordingly. Then, I use those lessons as fuel to do better.  Here are the lessons —

1. Setbacks Will Happen. No matter how good you are, nothing will be perfect. You may drop the ball on a project or “over forecast” your earnings, or get a bad review, but you can’t let it define you. Instead, you should use the lessons you learn to grow and make improvements as you go along.

2. Adjust Accordingly. Identify the cause of your setback/failure. Learn from it. Set a new plan in place. And, seek some wise counsel. There is nothing wrong with asking for a little help.

3. Give It Light. Failures are so much worse when we hide them. When we are transparent with our setbacks, we gain perspective, find some support, and quite possibly secure a solution.

4. Be Careful with Your “Words.” I have used the word “failure” in this blog post to emphasize the topic, but I rarely use it while discussing my work.  Instead, I choose to use words like, “challenges,” “setbacks,” and “lessons learned.” These words not only change my mindset, they change the type of energy we are placing into the universe when discussing business.

5. Don’t Give Up. Let me say this again, “Don’t Give Up!” You may have heard that J.K. Rowling received 12 rejections for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, but did you know that Oprah, Steve Jobs and Walt Disney were all fired from their jobs before they made it big? It happens to the best of us.  And, to be perfectly honest, I am glad they did get fired!  I couldn’t imagine a world without Oprah’s Book Club, Harry Potter, my iPhone and Mickey Mouse!

For a little extra inspiration, check out this Gatorade commercial.  It’s a great reminder how some of the best in sports rose above some of their biggest failures.

Keep the faith!


Kawania Wooten is the principal consultant at Howerton+Wooten Events, LLC.  Known to her friends and family as Kay, she uses artistic skills, her keen attention to the smallest details and her strong commitment to customer service as the hallmark of her business.  As the founder of the company, Kawania strives for professionalism, creativity and impeccable organization within every function planned by Howerton+Wooten Events.