Connect With Me

Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

Connect with me on FacebookConnect with me on TwitterConnect with me on TwitterConnect with me on LinkedInConnect with me on YouTubeConnect with me on TwitterConnect with me on Twitter


Sign-up for free monthly e-newsletter and get "Organizing Tip 101" series as a thank you bonus!

Buy Linda's book at her Amazon store for Autographed Copy!

In The Other Side of Organized, Linda Samuels, CPO-CD® will encourage you to get organized enough to reduce the stress of life’s details and make time to embrace your passions. Already, thousands of clients and readers have found help and inspiration in her advice, personal reflections on change and connection, and vision of what can be accomplished when you find that sweet spot between chaos and perfection.

Available in paperback or eBook for Kindle, Nook, iPad or iPhone and Sony Reader.

Professional Organizing

Need some help? Linda's company, Oh, So Organized! provides professional organizing services. Click here to learn about our unique Client Loyalty Program. Visit the Oh, So Organized! website for organizing tips, resources, videos and more. Make this your year to get organized.

« 7 Powerful Mindfulness Tips Useful for Times of Transition | Navigating Choices & Decisions »

8 Lessons Learned

8 Lessons LearnedWe are human beings that make mistakes. It’s impossible to go through life without taking some wrong turns, isn’t it? Of course our mistakes will vary as much as the lessons or growth we experience from them. And while there’s nothing quite as effective as hands-on learning, we can also learn something from other people’s stories. I enlisted help from a generous group of wonderful colleagues (Andrea Sharb, Cena Block, Peggy Pardo, Sheila Delson, April Lane Benson, Susan Lasky, Yota Schneider, and Sue West.) I asked them, “Can you describe a personal mistake or failure, which was accompanied by learning and growth?” Their responses are poignant, motivating, and inspiring. My deepest gratitude goes to each of them for bravely sharing their lessons with us. If you’re grappling with unresolved mistakes or feelings of failure, keep reading to discover some powerful, forward-thinking strategies that might work for you.


Can you describe a personal mistake or failure, which was accompanied by learning and growth? . . .

Slowing Down

“A significant source of failure for me: taking on too much, becoming overwhelmed and not completing tasks as a result. For many years I felt like I was failing everyday. An ADHD diagnosis and learning about how my brain works helped build awareness around what was happening so I could begin to slow this cycle. Now, a couple of my daily best practices questions help me maintain an ongoing awareness around this: 

Is this new opportunity just shiny, or will it truly energize me in the long run?

Am I relying on found time to get to what's most important?"

Andrea Sharb, CPO-CD®, ACC®, COC®, CPO® – Professional Organizer & ADHD Productivity Coach


Letting Go of Perfection

“One thing I struggled with early on in business was waiting till I had it 'right' before launching something new. It didn't matter whether it was a class, a blog post, a workshop, or a new pricing package… I was stopped because it didn't feel 'ready'.  This is something with which I know many mompreneurs struggle. Getting it right is largely connected to the hidden insecurity of not feeling good enough. (YES, those insecurities always seem to be lurking behind the scenes!) So, my PERSONAL MISTAKE was to wait, wait, wait… and use 'getting it right' as an excuse to stay stuck.  When I hired a coach, and she held this 'pattern' up so I could see it, I set a date and launched - in all my imperfection. What I learned was that waiting to launch to make it perfect was safer. Launching was more risky - but ultimately served MORE people… and allowed me to let go of the perfection.”

Cena Block – Business Coach, Author & Speaker


Trusting Instincts

“Most of the biggest mistakes I've made in my life have happened when I didn't listen to the ‘little voice inside my head’, call it instinct or intuition, and instead listened to others because I wasn't confident enough in my abilities. Hindsight has taught me to pay attention to what my gut is telling me and trust my own judgment. This has helped me to develop confidence in my decisions and talents.”

Peggy Pardo – Interior Decorator, Professional Organizer, Author, & Blogger


Doing No Harm

“One big personal mistake: assuming too much reliance and trust on others over myself. Betrayal and abandonment resulted when I was given an ultimatum over someone I wanted to marry – their way or the highway. I chose "my way!"  An excruciating lesson thirty years ago became my greatest blessing since. I've learned the value of forgiveness and tolerance of other’s mistakes, and my own as well.  We all try to do the best we can. Today this lesson impacts my daily decisions both personally and professionally.  Whenever possible – do no harm!”

Sheila Delson, CPO-CD® – Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization


Trusting Others

“Over thirty years ago, my husband began a retirement account for me that I contributed to each year. He did extremely well and my small initial investment grew by a multiple by 30! The tech bubble burst. I lost about 80% of that paper profit. I got extremely angry and took the management of the account away from him, which made him very angry. I put what money was left in a hedge fund and lost almost all the rest! What I learned was that I needed to totally trust my husband who had already more than proved himself.”

April Lane Benson, Ph.D. – Psychologist & Author


Honoring Imperfections

“As a professional organizer, I am ‘supposed’ to stay organized.  As a productivity coach, I am ‘supposed’ to walk my talk.  As a human being, I often fall short.  For a long time, I felt this dichotomy between knowing and doing made me an imposter. Even though I was frequently successful in following my own advice, I was never consistent, so how could I advise clients? 

A wonderful thing happened when I learned to truly accept myself, with humor and grace (which also became Step #2 in my 7-Step PowerPlan to Success).  As I shared my challenges with prospects and clients, their reaction was totally supportive and even relieved that I wasn’t ‘perfect.’  They felt I deeply understood their issues, and could help them break free from their own inner critic.”

Susan Lasky, M.A., SCAC – Board Certified Coach & Professional Organizer


Forgiving Self

“I've had my share of mistakes but once I begin to think about them in terms of the growth and learning that followed, they stop looking like mistakes. Of course not every mistake is accompanied by meaningful growth. There are mistakes I've made that simply highlight an aspect of myself that needs to be known.

What comes to mind is how I left corporate. I hadn't been happy for a while but instead of thinking it through, I just quit. As a result, I've had to backtrack numerous times and learn how to deal with the aftermath. I had to learn how to build a business from the ground up, keep going despite the obstacles, and forgive myself for not knowing it all. I believe I am a better coach because of all I've been through.”

Yota Schneider, Seasons of Change Certified Master CoachLife Transitions Coach, Workshops & Retreat Facilitator, Blogger, & Mindfulness Meditation Practitioner


Listening to Intuition

“I was a late bloomer to listening to the inner, intuitive voice which is uniquely mine. Any time that quiet whisper of a voice spoke to me, I ignored it, not believing in it. The growth came through learning to feel my feelings, so that my voice would grow louder and stronger. The learning came about due to errors of experience, through work with a therapist who didn't let me get away with intellectualizing, my work with clients who taught (and teach) me more than they will ever know, and my coaching program, where I learned even deeper listening skills.”

Sue West, CPO-CD®, COC® – Organizing & ADHD Coach


The deep knowing that each person has experienced by making mistakes, choosing wrong paths, and failing is so inspiring. We’ve all been there. It can be painful to grow. However, the silver lining is that we can use those lessons to have healthier, more productive, and happier lives. We can also use our experiences to help others.

Which lessons resonate with you? Do you have a personal learning experience to share? Come join the conversation.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (14)

Powerful sharing here! Personally I find that it's the little things that make me step back. I don't call it failing though. I call it finding a new awareness. When something does not go as it should, I take a few minutes to review the circumstances. I love that each of us has our own learning styles!

November 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

Amazing how much of a common thread there is here! For me, diligently pursuing humility is the most helpful way for me to handle my poor choices and mistakes. Pride & defensiveness usually make the situation worse. Accept responsibility (and assistance!) with grace and try again!

November 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

Wow! Love the authenticity of life lessons learned by these women. We ARE human and it's okay to acknowledge and embrace our imperfections.

November 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Schlesinger

"There are mistakes I've made that simply highlight an aspect of myself that needs to be known." Powerful words, those reflect the importance of mistakes in life. Get it wrong should help to get it right. I agree, not all the mistakes have the same lesson to learn, but every one of mine helped me to understand me better. Sometimes I listen to that and sometimes don't, and when I don't listen, life put me in a path to repeat the same mistake to learn.
To me all the experiences shared here, have the purpose of seeing through the witnesses eyes, get me a lesson and knowing myself better, following the signals, the warnings my own way.
Yes life will make me fall, but that is just to learn how to stand up tall and proud as a tree.
My recurrent mistakes, overthinking and say yes to everyone. The outcome, anxiety and paralysis in the first case; being overwhelmed by requests I shouldn't have agreed. Now I take life more light, thinking bout not overthinking and saying yes only to that request I want to and I have time for letting aside to Mr. Yes Guy at times, so I can have time for me first.

November 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNacho Eguiarte

Linda, thank you for the opportunity to share alongside these wonderful women. So much learning to be had. Today, Cena's post really captured my attention as I prepare to roll out a group coaching class for individuals with ADHD. The perfectionist gremlins have been whispering loudly in my ear about readiness. I think its time to quiet them and shift my focus to the launch as opposed to continuing to make the course even "better."

November 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea Sharb

Linda and guest, is wonderful to read how experienced professionals like you have grown through the process of making mistakes. I believe every mistake is a learning experience, but sometimes as we go through the pains we forget to be grateful for them. Thank you for sharing. I am also learning to "just launch", saying no, always listen to my inner voice and having healthy boundaries.
Thank you for another wonderful post!

November 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHelena Alkhas

Honored to be in the company of such amazing professional experts who are confident enough to share their shortcomings . Exposing oneself is not any easy thing to do, and yet you all have done so with such grace and honesty. I'm happy to throw some of my foibles into the mix.

'Listening more and talking less" is by far my greatest challenge. I'm over eager to share my knowledge and transfer skills, and I have been remiss in understanding the scope of my client's needs. Strengthening my "listening muscle" is a work in progress and I have since applied this life skill to my personal life as well.

Clarifying boundaries is another piece that I continue to work on. Separating my personal self from my professional self is often difficult for me. Many clients become my friends because I not only take on clients that I feel I can help, it's because I actually like them. I have crossed boundaries more times than I care to admit and as a result, have compromised the relationship.

For me, the most important takeaway is that I no longer consider these as failures. It's part of my journey and an integral part of my personal and professional growth. There are always valuable lessons I can learn from my mistakes. I'm not opposed to addressing them or modifying strategies to make effective improvements.

Linda and company, thank you all for creating a comfortable platform in which to share our personal perspectives. We all learn from each other and it's so nice to know we can get the support too :)

November 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNancy Borg

You are an amazing group! How wonderful to hear all of your thoughts and additions to the conversation.

@Ellen- Love the reframing of "finding a new awareness." What a useful perspective to adopt.

@Seana- Such key ideas…"pursuing humility," "accept responsibility with grace," and "try again." Just lovely.

@Lisa- I'm with you. Love the honest sharing here. And yes…important to "embrace our imperfections."

@Nacho- Yota's words are powerful and so true. There have been many situations where I've had to learn the same lesson more than once. Other times I've been quick to get the lesson. It sounds like you've experienced that, but now have figured out a different way of going forward that allows you to be more selective with your "yeses."

@Andrea- How fabulous that Cena's words helped you today with the "perfectionist gremlins." I've seen you successfully launch before and know you've got everything you need to move ahead.

@Helena- I love that reminder about being grateful for the challenging life lessons. That's a great perspective to have. There's always more to learn. Sounds like you're working on a terrific list.

@Nancy- Lovely sharing. What strikes me is the awareness that you and everyone else has about what needs working on, the value of learning, and knowing that sometimes we don't "get it" right away. Perhaps our lessons get repeated until we have enough awareness to identity that change might be needed. We are all works in progress.

November 12, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

I love this post! It's quite powerful. I can identify with each one of the contributors. At one point of my life or another I too had to learn - and I'm still learning - how to let go of perfection, trust my instincts and intuition, and accept my limitations. Being in the "presence" of all you wonderful women also reminds me how much easier it is to look at life from all angles when we're in community.
Thank you Linda! xoxo

November 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterYota Schneider

@Yota- You're such an integral part of this community. We all help one another learn, grow, reflect and try on some new perspectives. Thank you for always being there and for being able to so eloquently verbalize what we often experience.

November 13, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

It is true, Linda, what you say about bringing our experiences into our practice. I have a particular interest in working with people to advocate for themselves- as caregivers, women, people who have ADHD, or arecgoing through other big life changes. It fits with what I've experienced and grown from, as I've written for your collaborative post.

November 13, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSue west

Sue- Your clients are so lucky to have your support as they learn to listen and advocate for themselves. I'm sure they find your life experiences both inspiring and encouraging as they forge their own paths.

November 13, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Thank you Linda! You've done such a great job building this community; where we feel welcome and safe to express our points of view. Three cheers for the Oh So fearless leader of the Oh So Fabulous Women Round Table.:-)) Hugs!

November 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterYota Schneider

@Yota- Thank you so much. I love that you're part of the "Round Table." And what a feast it is having you and everyone else here to share, learn, and be together. Hugs back to you!

November 15, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>