Posted by BB Harding

Now tell the truth…what was evoked within you as you opened this blog and saw the giant red F? In terms of our typical conditioning, I would say that as a whole, we are not really permitted to fail. How many disparaging remarks are there for one who has failed – loser, no good/no account, worthless, ne’er-do-well, disappointment, washout. What if we saw our experiences, some of which relates to failure, as simply the possibility to learn? How would it shift perceptions, and the way one lives their life?

As I continue my studies of Human Design, one of the topics is the 3rd line profile (determined by the conscious or unconscious sun). Either a person has the 3 profile directly, or they might have a 6 profile where the first 28-30 years of life are as if one is a 3. In traditional Human Design the 3 is referred to as the Martyr. Not what you would call a very enticing label to have. As I listened to the instructor discuss the importance of creating a safe place for the 3 to experiment and to fail, and then when they fail to talk with them about what they learned, she had my attention.

For the 3, it is important to have hands-on experiences, where they try things and fail. They are designed to make mis-takes. This is the way that they learn to develop the knowledge and resiliency through tenacity and adaptation. In a group, when they say, “nah, that won’t work” pay attention, for they have been there, done that. The challenge is going through the experiences without becoming pessimistic – that everything that they touch turns to “caca.”

Since hearing this information a couple of weeks ago, I have been thinking about that off and on. I’m a 6 line, so the 3 line applies to the first part of my life. The foremost thought has been “and when they fail, ask them what they learned.” When they fail?!? I looked back over my life to see what kinds of things I learned about failure. How I was encouraged to go out and “fail” so that I could learn? Hmmm, not so much. In fact, I don’t really recall anything akin to “Honey, that’s ok. Tell Mommy/Daddy what you learned when you did that.” I also can’t say that they got really down on me because I failed, or even failed to try.

I remember discovering my report card once where there were D’s and F’s all over it. I don’t recall my parents taking me to task for not being the best and brightest. As a younger child, my specialty was sports and reading comic books, not really much to measure success or failure. I played to have fun and occasionally to win. The thing I loved most in the comic books was the “fact page” located in the center. I learned how flies walked on the ceiling and impressed my teacher; and that serfs had to live a year and a day away from the manor they were tied to to become a freed-man. That factoid came in handy when I was a junior in high school. It wasn’t until 7th grade that I started to really engage with classroom activities. My teacher taught us to diagram sentences, and I fell in love with that process. After that, I did much better at school. Ah, I digress.

So, not taken to task for outright failure, what did happen? I would say I was encouraged to do better. If I got a B, why didn’t I get and A? If I didn’t get something done, how could I work harder to make it happen? If I didn’t do well, then I didn’t reap any rewards. How to avoid doing things that didn’t work. Ah, that last thing was a big one, and lends itself to some of my risk-taking adversity. I have a preference for not failing. During my period of contemplation, I had the realization that I probably would have never made the lightbulb if I had been Thomas Edison. Even though I have had experiences that have had me “figure things out,” it still is not a preferred method of operation. I like to know that I am more sure-footed than that.

I have noticed the last few weeks, that I have been wondering about reversion to the energy of my 3rd line stage so that I could become more tolerant of experimenting and rechoosing. I may have shared before that one of the challenges for me has been that once I made a choice, I felt as if I was stuck with that choice. So, making a decision was not a light thing to do. I didn’t want to cut off opportunities; I didn’t want to make a mistake. I hadn’t learned that it was part of my experiencing and that the thing to do was to look at what I had learned from the experience. There is a sense of release to know that another perception is what will I learn rather than I have failed.

How can you work with the concept of failure? How much permission do you give yourself to learn from your “mistakes?”


This will be my last entry as a regular contributor to the Women Move It Forward blog. It has been an honor to participate with this amazing group of women, and share some of my thoughts over the last (nearly) three years. I hope that they have brought inspiration and new perspectives to your lives.  I’d like to also thank you for tuning in to read the wisdom that is shared in this space.