What if failing wasn't just "okay," but the most direct way to becoming a more complete, loving, and fulfilled human being? Through the insights of her own teachers and life journey, Pema Chödrön offers us her heartfelt advice on how to face the unknown-in ourselves and in the world-and how our missteps can open our eyes to see new possibilities and purpose. For Pema's millions of readers, prospective graduates, or anyone at a life crossroads, this gem of clarity and reassurance is sure to find a welcome place in many a kitchen, office, and backpack.

125 pages


"Pema Chödrön promised to speak at her granddaughter's graduation from Naropa University. When asked what her speech would be about, she declined to answer because she had decided to speak to those enthusiastic young graduates about failure. True to her compassionate nature, it turned out to be some of the best advice they would ever receive. She described failing as "getting good at holding the rawness of vulnerability in your heart." She encouraged them to embrace the discomfort of failure rather than blaming others or themselves. She recounted her own painful struggle with turning failure into strength. She suggested that failure is just a shift in the direction of our lives. The last section of the book is a follow-up interview with her which was conducted by Founder & CEO of Sounds True, Tami Simon. During Simon's interview she had the chance to discuss the deeper layers of the ideas she had offered to those young people. Chödrön has a talent for connecting mind to mind through the heart. This book is another beautiful example of her skill."
-Anna Jedrziewski, Retailing Insight (formerly New Age Retailer)

"For Boulder, Colorado-based Naropa University's 2014 commencement ceremony, Chödrön (When Things Fall Apart) told new graduates that 'knowing how to fail well' is an essential-and neglected-life skill. Chödrön, an American Buddhist nun, popular author, and student of the late Chögyam Trungpa, urges her audience to hold the 'rawness of vulnerability in [your] heart' rather than blaming self or others. This volume pairs a transcript of the very short speech, accompanied by abstract black and white drawings, with a more substantive interview with her publisher, in which Chödrön talks candidly about her personal experiences with failure and explores self-hatred, human goodness, and fear. She provides insightful suggestions for how to move forward into life despite crushing failure, how to turn regret into empathy and compassion, and how to cope gracefully with a failing body. This small book, an appropriate gift for recent graduates or anyone facing a challenging transition, also contains sustenance for loyal Chödrön fans, and introduces new readers to her gentle wisdom for living in a 'world where there are a lot of things that aren't fixable.'"
-Publishers Weekly

"Chodron is one of the rock stars of contemporary spiritual life. Born Deirdre Blomfield-Brown in New York City, the author converted to Buddhism in her thirties, became a disciple of Chögyam Trungpa, and ultimately the leader of the Boulder Shambhala Center in Colorado. She is also the author of such works as The Wisdom of No Escape and Start From Where You Are, which brought her a wide, attentive audience. This latest book arose from a request to speak at her granddaughter's commencement. Chodron presents wisdom inherent in allowing oneself to fail. The text has been enlarged by brushstroke-like artwork, a follow-up interview with Sounds True founder and publisher Tami Simon, and an introduction by entrepreneur Seth Godin. VERDICT This brief text has all of the pleasures of a stocking-stuffer but is suitable to other seasons as well and by no means limited in its appeal to followers of Buddhism or recent graduates."
-Library Journal

About the Author

Pema Chödrön is an American-born Buddhist nun and the author of many spiritual classics, including When Things Fall Apart and How to Meditate. She serves as resident teacher at Gampo Abbey Monastery in Nova Scotia and is a student of Dzigar Kongtrul, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, and the late Chögyam Trungpa. For more, visit pemachodronfoundation.org.