One Failure Made All the Difference

By guest blogger Bob Wilson

I graduated some years back from the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). While I was there, UNI implemented a writing competency exam.  All students had to pass the test in order to graduate.  I thought – no problem, as I’ve always done well in school and been good at taking tests.

As I left the exam room, I knew I didn’t ace the test, but I still felt confident that I’d done ok.  I got the results and it wasn’t even close – I bombed it, big time.  The good news was I could take it again.  The bad news was it was nearly the end of my junior year. I was running out of time.

Since I didn’t want to risk failing again, I knew it was time for action.  I started looking for any and all resources I could find on writing.  I was so hungry (or desperate) for knowledge on writing that I consumed everything I could find – magazines, books, and articles on the web.

My efforts paid off.  I passed the test on the next try.  Even so, I still wasn’t satisfied. I continued to read, learn, improve. In the process, I developed a real love of writing.

In hindsight, I’m amazed at how this one decision – choosing to improve my writing – has affected my life in so many significant, positive ways.

My improved writing skills helped me succeed in being an effective manager of people.  In addition, I developed and taught an adult education class on writing.  Teaching this class allowed me to meet many wonderful people and also improve my public speaking skills.

A few months ago I started my own blog. With the blog, I quickly discovered my love for writing hasn’t faded one bit.  In addition, the blog has helped me continue to grow as a writer, and find time to write.

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that I love writing for three main reasons:

  1. Creativity.  I love the creative outlet writing gives me.
  2. Expression.  I stop, reflect, and revise my thoughts until I’ve written them in a way that truly captures what I want to express. Even though I love a good conversation, writing allows me to express myself in a way that can’t quite be recreated verbally.
  3. Connection.  I feel more connected with myself and with others.  Writing offers a wonderful experience to utilize both sides of my brain. My blog has been a great way to connect with others.

I used to be a horrible writer.  Over time, I not only improved my writing, but grew to love the process.  To take an activity that I used to avoid at all costs and have it become something that is such a wonderful and vital part of my life…what an amazing feeling that is!

I’m curious. Have you experienced something similar? How has committing yourself to writing changed your life?


Bob Wilson is transitioning his career from IT Management to Business/Life Coaching.  He currently lives in Iowa.  He loves to listen to live music, write, teach, learn, and travel.  He blogs about finding the good within adversity at

12 Responses to One Failure Made All the Difference
  1. Patti Stafford
    Twitter: pattistafford
    March 11, 2011 | 8:28 AM

    Excellent post, Bob!

    My husband and I are known, in some circles, as the grammar nazi’s or the grammar police. The funny thing is we both were lucky to make D’s in high school English class. The people who “dislike” our corrections of their sentences and grammar were all straight A students.

    Writing, grammar and punctuation can be learned, it’s not that difficult. It can also be forgotten if it’s not used.

    Congrats on becoming a Business/Life coach. I look forward to reading more of your material. I was reading some of your blog posts and this sentence really struck a cord with me, “Resistance generally shows up when it’s something that is important and beneficial to you.”

    I must have many important things going on because I meet resistance several times a day. LOL

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful post with us.


    • Bob
      March 12, 2011 | 12:29 AM

      Thanks so much for the comments on my post and for the congratulations. Funny how sometimes the “good” students aren’t all that good.
      Hang in there with the resistance. It fights a tough battle, but it can be outsmarted. Thanks again and hugs!

  2. catherine
    March 11, 2011 | 11:30 AM

    Regarding commitment, I have experienced something similar but it’s about accounting and would probably bore everyone to tears! 🙂

    I love your blog…finding the good within adversity. The comforting and hopeful feeling there is most uplifting. Also, your titles and pictures really pull a person in. Kudos! I have read a couple posts so far and will definitely be back this weekend to spend some quality time.

    I couldn’t agree more with the three main reasons you love writing. Creativity is my juice. Expression is so much easier for me in writing than speaking, but it is also teaching me to converse better. The connection I’ve found with the writing community has become an experience I want to live with forever. Even as a newbie, I feel I can show up, warts and all, and be accepted.

    Wishing you much success with your career transition, writing and blog!

    • Bob
      March 12, 2011 | 12:32 AM

      Thanks so much. I’m glad to hear creativity is your juice and that you’re a writer. I agree with you completely on the connection with the writing community – definitely something special. Thanks again and take care,

  3. @fearofwriting
    Twitter: fearofwriting
    March 11, 2011 | 11:50 AM

    What a wonderfully uplifting story. So inspiring that you used that failing grade to go all out; you did not stop at doing just enough to get a pass. Even more inspiring that you let it change your life. And now you’re helping others with the fruits of your learning. Your passion emanates from this blog post.

    Committing myself to my own writing led to a career helping other writers, which in turn helped or healed many of my own issues about writing. It led me to connect and/or make friends with so many people I would otherwise never have met, and to stretch myself creatively (and in other ways) far beyond what it was possible for me to visualize ahead of time. So your three points made perfect sense to me, and I feel the same.

    ~ Milli

    • Bob
      March 12, 2011 | 12:36 AM

      Thanks so much for your kind words…and for the opportunity to guest post. Writing certainly has made a tremendous impact in my life and it sounds like it has in yours as well. Awesome. The connection with others is certainly a wonderful benefit that means a lot to me as well. Thanks again and all the best…

  4. Lois
    March 11, 2011 | 2:45 PM

    Thanks for this very inspirational post!

    Yes, I’ve experienced this very same thing with my writing. I first discovered a love of writing in junior high when I was given the assignment to write a short story. I fell in love with my story, and I never wanted it to end (in fact, I had to turn it in before I ever finished it).

    Something happened in high school to change that, though. I think it was just the strictness of my teachers. I felt I wasn’t really allowed to show my creativity, as I couldn’t choose the books I wanted to write book reports on, and we focused more on the mechanics of good writing. It took me a long time to start writing again, and I’ve been on a roll ever since. 🙂

    I’m about to check out your blog. From the comments above, I expect to be in for a real treat! 😀

    Thanks again!


    • Bob
      March 12, 2011 | 12:38 AM

      Thank you so much. That’s really wonderful that you fell in love with writing at an early age. Interesting how it came back into your life. I think the activities we really love have a way of doing that. Thanks again for your kind words…take care,

      • Lois
        March 12, 2011 | 12:24 PM

        You’re welcome, Bob. 🙂

        Another favorite activity has re-entered my life, too. That would be knitting. Now I just need to figure out when to do each. LOL!

        • Bob
          March 12, 2011 | 5:55 PM

          Lois – how great that you’ve rediscovered another love – knitting. I hear you there – tough to find time for all the activities we love. Best wishes,

  5. j
    March 11, 2011 | 3:36 PM

    Love that story. Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

    • Bob
      March 12, 2011 | 12:40 AM

      Thanks J, I appreciate it. I also appreciate you giving me the opportunity to guest post. It means a lot to me. Thanks again and all the best…

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