Posted on: September 28th, 2017 by Jen Mueller

You’re going to fail.

I know you probably don’t want to hear it, but that doesn’t make it less true.

Talking about failure isn’t fun, but it’s one of the topics we’re going to discuss at the upcoming Seattle Sports Commission Women’s Leadership Breakfast October 26, 2017 in Seattle. I’m moderating the event would love to see you in the audience.

The women on stage know the lessons learned from a failure can propel you into greater success. They also know that if you’ve participated in sports, you’ve got a leg up on handling those challenges.

“Dealing with adversity and conflict are things you have to do and work through as an athlete, and those are the same things you’re going to deal with in a work environment.” Andrea Williams explained. She’s the Commissioner of the Big Sky Conference, a former two-sport collegiate athlete and the kick-off speaker for the breakfast.

Her past failures include an awkward job interview with the Texas Rangers baseball team shortly after leaving college.

“I remember being in the interview and being asked the question, ‘Why did I want to work in baseball?’” Williams recalled. “And I remember my answer being something about baseball being my second favorite sport. In hindsight, I should have said baseball is my favorite sport and it would be an honor to work for the Texas Rangers.”

Failing to get that job, stuck with Williams for a long time and provided a valuable lesson.

“I learned I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been, so I didn’t get the job. That has stayed with me for forever.”


Panelist Shaney Fink also used a past experience to shape how she approaches her current role as Athletic Director at Seattle University.

“At my last job, we had a real issue with the way we were doing compliance and handling financial aid.” Fink said. “I had come into the situation, and assumed that everything I walked into had been done correctly before me. I didn’t ask enough questions. It was a pivotal career moment where I just realized, you just have to ask all the questions.”


In the case of University of Washington Athletic Director Jen Cohen, her mistake was not thinking big enough on the Husky stadium capital campaign project.

“The experts said there was only a certain amount of money we could raise because the economy was bad at the time,” Cohen explained. “Instinctually, I felt we should have shot bigger. We didn’t, and we sold ourselves short. We raised a lot of money, and we met our goal, but right now we have debt because of it. I feel like I really made a mistake and that I should have pushed everyone around me to think bigger.”

For Cohen, that experience drove home the importance of trusting her intuition and having the courage to go out on a limb, take a risk and trust herself.


We’ll talk more about lessons learned from failure at the breakfast. In the meantime, I’d encourage you to look for small ways to fail. It’s in Chapter 6 of my new book, The Influential Conversationalist. Download the chapter here and discover how a few of the Seahawks approach career development challenges.

Register here for the Women’s Leadership Breakfast October 26, 2017.