How my Failure Leads to Success

There is a famous quote that says, “You learn more from failure than from success. Don’t let it stop you. Failure builds character.” Boy does this ring true for us! In this day and age of polished Instagram photos and amazing stories on blogs and other platforms, we often only see the positive side to a story. But there are many benefits of failure. In fact, when chasing the numerous items on our bucket list we have found that failure is good. That is because in all the stupid mistakes we have made chasing various bucket list items something remarkable happened. We Learned! 

So grab your first aid kit & get ready to laugh as we share how failure leads to success by highlighting the many bloopers we have had chasing items on our bucket list. Hopefully, by admitting our faults, mistakes, and failures you too will learn so you can avoid these pitfalls as well.

Our Travel Failures that led to Success

When it comes to tackling travel bucket list items, preparation is always key! But everyone prepares differently. For example, we are more outliners. We like to have a good idea of where we are going and what we like to do but we don’t detail every aspect of our travel. Don’t get us wrong, we love the freedom of not being scheduled. But by being a bit loosey-goosey it has created a few problems while traveling. However, each time our failure led to success because we learned and improved. So what kind of travel fails have we had? Let’s dive into it.

Grab your first aid kit & get ready to laugh as we share how failure leads to success by highlighting the many bloopers we have had chasing the items on the Bucket List Project! #Failure #NeverGiveUp #AlwaysLearning
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1) We have chosen some lousy destinationsThe Petit Poucet was once where Saint-Exupéry, the French author of the Little Prince used to spend time between mail flights across the Sahara drinking with Albert Camus was a major Travel Fail

The Fail:

For those of you who know us, you know we love exploring great literary spots around the world. So we were very excited to see and hang out at The Petit Poucet in Casablanca. For those who don’t know this cafe was once where Saint-Exupéry, the French author of The Little Prince used to spend time between mail flights across the Sahara drinking with Albert Camus. But now no one there seems to care or honor that history.

We were also pretty disappointed when we visited Barranquilla! Don’t get us wrong, if you show up to this large city during Carnival you will witness one of Colombia’s most important folkloric celebrations, and one of the biggest carnivals in the world according to UNESCO. But when we arrived there was NOTHING happening in the massive city. Even our hotel hosts wondered why on earth we were visiting their city in April.

How this Failure Leads to Success:  

While these destinations were a complete disappointment they didn’t take away from our travel experiences. I mean to be fair, nothing could disappoint us about Casablanca since that is where we got engaged. But, when the main reason for visiting is a bust, you can either rue in disappointment or adapt. So for us, we learned to adapt and find something else to do which led to some fun experiences.

2) We have not packed wellPacking up the 5 compartments of the Journey System Minimalist Travel Bag

The Fail

Nowadays we try to be minimalists when packing but it was not always this way. If you have read our review on the one bag travel system by Journey System then you saw us toting around a gigantic suitcase across all of the United Kingdom. See we thought that if we packed all of our gear together in 1 large suitcase it would not only be easier but save us tons of money on bag fees. But though it may have saved us a few dollars it was an absolute nightmare to drag around the old cobblestone roads of Scotland and England.

We have also failed to pack properly for the weather. For example, driving into Jaisalmer during the Rickshaw Run, we were freezing. This is because we had forgotten to pack warm clothes. So as we raced to the finish line, we were wearing everything we had packed, just to stay warm.

How this Failure Leads to Success

After nearly throwing out my back carrying around tons of clothes, we knew something had to change. We realized that though we want to be prepared for different weather issues and certain events, we need to learn to pack better so we can be prepared without extra items. So first we learned about ways to pack for the different environments we were possibly visiting. Then, we discovered the Journey System minimalist backpack and other bags which would allow us to carry all of our gear better and more efficiently.

3) ERIC often forgets to put on SunscreenFor pictures of Eric Gamble traveling around the world but failing to put on sunscreen on his face

The Fail

Perhaps one of the biggest travel fails that I have is getting sunburned while traveling. Likely, this is because growing up, I rarely got sunburned and never developed a good habit of lathering up. There is also something to be said about always backpacking outdoors, hiking in open areas with no real protection. But to be honest, there is no excuse for not taking better care of my skin. 

How this Failure Leads to Success

Now, I like my tan complexion. But to be honest, as I am getting older, this constant abuse of my skin and especially my face is worrisome. Plus, we all know that sunburns can lead to serious issues. In fact, according to the National Cancer Institute, 33,000 adults get sunburned every year so bad that they require emergency room visits. Plus, these burns can lead to future skin cancer or worse, melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer. So, to prevent future damage, I have become an avid user of Banana Boat Ultra Sport Sunscreen Travel Pack.

4) We have not planned well for ground transportationEric Gamble hitch hiking in the back of a Truck in Phuket, Thailand

The Fail

Perhaps one of the biggest travel fails we have is forgetting to plan out our ground transportation. I know this sounds silly. But more often than not, we have arrived at our destination airport with no clue how to get to our hotel. If you can imagine, we are sitting by the luggage carousel when suddenly we realize we have no idea if this city has Uber, a Metro, or a bus system.

This lack of planning also rears its ugly head when we go adventuring. For example, there have been several times when we spent the day at the beaches near Santa Marta or ended up exploring The Great Buddha sitting atop Nakkerd Hill in Phuket and realized we had no clue how to get back to our home base. In most cases, it was a bit nerve-racking.

How this Failure Leads to Success

We have made this mistake so often now, you might think that I love to fail. But, with each situation, we have followed a few simple steps to find success. First, we relax. There is no reason to panic or stress out because that just makes the situation worse. Secondly, we have learned to ask for help. Inevitably, people are good and will help you find a way back home. Now of course you should always be cautious and safe. But, we have learned by asking for help that often there may be options like a metro, taxis, Uber, tuk-tuks, collectivos, or even the occasional farm truck that will be glad to give you a ride to your destination.

Hot Tip: We truly feel that most places in the world are safe. However, as in any place you travel please use common sense and stay to main areas while exploring. We also strongly recommend that you consider getting Travel Insurance from World Nomads. It is a simple and flexible insurance to keep you safe while participating in any wild adventure.

Adventure Experience Failures that led to Success

Perhaps the easiest bucket list category to experience failure is your Adventure Activities & Experiences list. This is because more often than not, many of these items rely on physical ability which we may just not have. Now that doesn’t give you a pass to not give it the old college try. But, you need to be prepared because your goal may require a lot of training, effort, practice, and ultimately a little luck.  So is failure good when you strike out attempting an adventure activity or experience? We think so.

1) Eric can’t seem to KiteboardPicture of Eric Gamble failing at Kiteboarding in Tobago

The Fail:

I remember the first time I saw kiteboarders cruising around Fort Walton Beach, Florida. It was back in the late 1990s and an outfit known as XL Kites had a van parked on the bay with a group learning how to float their kites. I was immediately awestruck and knew I had to try it. So, my mom bought me lessons and I learned the basics of launching and body dragging. But when it came to putting the board on my feet and actually surfing, I FAILED. I pretty much dragged around the bay face first, drinking up all the saltwater Florida had to offer. 

How this Failure Leads to Success:  

Of course, the scenario above was my first time so that was okay. I mean sports like that are not easy to learn. But I had to make some hard decisions and clarify my commitment to Kiteboarding. So a few months later, I took my savings and bought a board, a Cabrinha Switchblade kite, and a full rig set up. With my new gear, I would practice in Lake Pontchartrain, & the beaches of Gulfport. Often I would return to the XL Kites gang in Fort Walton and ask for help. To further my skills (or at least try to) I even spent a week in Tobago with the Radical Sports Tobago Kiteboarding School.

Now, I have to be honest, I still can’t stand on the board and kite at the same time. Even the guys at Radical Sports Tobago were a bit confused by my lack of ability. Though they were impressed by how much of the Caribbean Sea I could drink without drowning. But through all of this failure, my dream didn’t fade. Maybe it is because I love watching the graceful soaring of other kiteboarders or maybe it is because I am stubborn. But I know that hopefully with continued practice, I will succeed.

2) We can’t catch the Northern LightsEric Gamble feels like Eeyore with a raincloud overhead because he hasnt ever seen the northern lights

The Fail:

Have you ever felt like Eeyore with a raincloud overhead? I am not going to lie, I feel like that every time I go hunting the Northern Lights! Not because seeing the Aurora Borealis is depressing in any way. No, the fail comes in that even if the forecast of the location & intensity of the aurora is supposed to be perfect, by the time I get out there, a sudden stream of clouds appears. REALLY. This has happened to me in my attempt to see the Northern Lights in Iceland, Alaska, Northern Wyoming, & other places.

How this Failure Leads to Success:  

In order for this failure to lead to success, I had to first accept that the weather is out of my control. It seems pretty obvious but that doesn’t mean I can’t hedge my bets to find success. So in order to increase my odds of seeing the Northern Lights, I learned to research better by visiting sites like NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center or the Aurora Hunter. So, with a little luck, planning, and a whole lot of patience, we will finally witness the magical display of lights, someday.

3) We have had run-ins with the lawDarcee Snider stopped by the Police in India for being too cute

The Fail:

When we sign up for different activities or adventures around the world, in no way do we ever attempt anything illegal. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t had issues with law enforcement or security forces. For example, while taking on the wild adventure of driving a tuk-tuk across India, Darcee actually got us stopped by the Indian Police! At first, we assumed they thought we stole the tuk-tuk or maybe Darcee was speeding (if that is even possible in that glorified lawnmower). But in reality, he just wanted to say hi and see if we had a $1.00 U.S. bill since had never seen one ever.

Now in Liechtenstein, things were a little different. Essentially the Swiss Guard came down on Eric after he accidentally tried to illegally re-enter the Schatzkammer which is the Princes of Liechtenstein’s Private Collection of treasures. 

How this Failure Leads to Success:  

When it comes to your failures, we truly hope that none of them require the assistance of law enforcement. But if they do, we have learned to always approach the situation respectfully and even with some positivity. For example, with all the things to do in Liechtenstein, being surrounded by armed guards shouldn’t be high on anyone’s list. But, accidents happen. So by being calm, respectful, and most importantly, apologetic, all was forgiven within moments.

4) We have bitten off more than we could chewEric Gamble has Gotten myself into tough situations

The Fail:

I vividly remember staring at the distance sign at the start of my pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago from St. Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. For those who don’t use the metric system, 790 kilometers is roughly 491 miles. Wait, what? That is like walking from New Orleans to Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida but with mountains in the middle! Plus, I was doing it alone and only had a guidebook and painted arrows on random walls and rocks to guide me. The start of the pilgrimage definitely filled me with a bit of doubt.

Another time I felt a bit overwhelmed is in preparation for our Climbing Devil’s Tower for ALS. I mean what kind of crazy person volunteers to climb 867 feet (265 m) from base to summit, with a summit 5,112 feet above sea level? I know it is for an amazing cause but I am not as young as I used to be.

How this Failure Leads to Success:  

Well with the Camino, I realized that my only way home was from Portugal, so no matter what, I had to head that direction. It was then that I realized that if I started to walk and either struggled, decided I didn’t like it, or flat out failed, that was okay. This is because I knew that I could always stop and catch a train or another way back. Now I know that this type of “safety net” thought seems a bit like a way out. But to be honest, sometimes people just need to know there are alternatives or a plan B to make them feel comfortable. 

Another thing I have learned that has lead to success is how to gather your support team. When you are taking on a bucket list item that seems a bit overwhelming, you have to stop and look for help. Inevitably, there are others walking that same trail or climbing that same mountain that share similar fears, challenges, or concerns. It is in those moments that you can find strength to accomplish your goals by doing it together! In many of our successes, we have made great friends who won with us!

Personal Growth Failures that lead to Success

Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, author of The Power of Positive Thinking, once shared, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” I personally love this quote because sometimes it is often hard to relay the benefits of failure to those who only see one final goal. Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to pursuing your bucket list dreams, we want you to keep your eyes on the big prize. But there are so many great and positive side effects to failure especially with items on your personal growth bucket list. Let’s explore a few of our failures that lead to success.

1) I still can’t see my 6 pack absEric Gamble in a before picture really fat and an after picture quite thin

The Fail:

I can still remember the feeling of ripping my “fat boy” pants in the parking lot getting out of my car. See back in 2009, I was FAT! I was always husky but that summer as seen in the pic above on the left, I maxed out my 5’8″ frame to a weight of 245lbs. So, rather than buying new suit pants for my job, the year before I had gone to Walmart and bought a pair of those cheaply made black slacks with the elastic band. I mean I didn’t want to buy new expensive pants when I already had some and I could “easily” lose the weight. But I hadn’t. So one day, as I was getting out of my car to visit a client, my cheap Walmart pants tore at the elastic band because I pushed them to the max. It was too much and at the moment, #5) See my 6 Pack was added to my Personal Growth Bucket List.

How this Failure Leads to Success:

Now I will be honest, I thought I would have had a 6 pack by now. I mean that was 11 years ago. But I barely have some details of a 4 pack at times – usually near the summer months. However, that is okay because even though I have yet to get shredded, I still found great success.

You see, in this pursuit for the ideal physique, I still lost nearly 90lbs and have maintained that 157lb weight for over 10 years. Now, it wasn’t easy and I learned that there isn’t 1 way that works for everyone. In fact, I probably have tried about 5 different eating lifestyles and over 45 different workout plans. But I never lost commitment to my goal and my health.

2) I still can’t fluently speak Spanish

The Fail:

So I don’t have many regrets about the choices I have made. But one of the biggest regrets I do have is not studying Spanish more as a kid. My mom tried to get me to learn and initially spoke to me in Spanish. But as I became a stubborn teen, I gave up on it and even rebelled by taking French in high school. However, in my pursuit to learn more about my Cuban heritage and travel more, I have attempted many of the best ways to learn Spanish. The only problem is that I am still nowhere near being fluent enough to have a conversation with my Grandmother.

How this Failure Leads to Success:

So, yes I am still a very long way from fluent conversational Spanish with my Cuban family. But, in this failure, I have had some success. For example, I have learned enough to easily tackle basic travel situations. I have long term traveled to Spain, Colombia, Peru and even parts of Morocco and successfully navigated situations speaking Spanish. Plus, in attempting various ways to learn Spanish, I also discovered better ways of learning subjects overall. That way when I take on future personal growth items, I can find the right resources to help me learn.

Failures in Louisiana that led to Success

In Louisiana, we like to say “laissez les bon temps rouler” which means “let the good times roll.” But we have missed the pirogue a few times by not paying attention. Now don’t get me wrong, we don’t take things too seriously or often live by a schedule down here in the Bayou State. But our lack of organization has led to a few failures. So grab your Mom ‘n ‘em and check out some of our major faux pas while chasing our Louisiana Bucket List!

1) We missed the fais-do-doThe former Cafe Des Amis that we failed to visit while it was still open

The Fail:

For those of you who don’t know a fais-do-do (pronounced fay DOUGH DOUGH) is basically a fun Cajun dance party. In general the best ones are based around food, music, and dancing and are found in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. So when looking for the best fais-do-do, the infamous Cafe Des Amis topped the list. We kept saying that we were going to take the drive over for a fun weekend. I mean it was barely 3 hours away. But sadly due to our hemming and hawing, we missed our chance and it closed in early 2018.

How this Failure Leads to Success:

Cafe Des Amis WAS world-famous for their Saturday Morning Zydeco Breakfast. Visitors were greeted with spicy bloody mary’s and rich Cajun cuisine like eggs with crawfish étouffée. However, the real highlight was when the  Zydeco band started to play encouraging everyone to dance! So, when we realized that we missed our chance it was a big disappointment. But that didn’t deter us. Instead, we asked around, did a little research, and discovered there is a new kid in town, Buck and Johnny’s, that is offering zydeco music, dancing, and a world famous Zydeco Breakfast.

2) We’ve been a wee bit too close to some gatorsGetting a bit too close to an alligator at Rip's Rookery Louisiana

The Fail:

It a very popular bucket list item to take a swamp tour, visit an alligator farm, or see them in the wild at Rip’s Rookery in New Iberia. So of course, there have been several times where I wanted to show my Wyoming girlfriend, now wife, some true Louisiana gators. But one of the first times I did this we kind of got a bit too close. While walking the lap around Rip’s Rookery on Jefferson Island we came upon several gators sunbathing. By that time, we had already walked all the way around the island and we weren’t sure we should go back. Needless to say, we RAN by them as fast as humanly possible!

How this Failure Leads to Success:

Outside of improving my time in the 40-yard dash, getting too close to alligators made me learn better safety protocols. So we turned to the Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries website. According to LDWF, most alligators, if left alone, will move on and are generally not a threat to people. However, they do recommend that if you have a close encounter with an alligator, like we did, back away slowly. 

My Failure to Make Amends that led to Success

Asking for forgiveness is HARD! I have often said that my Making Amends Bucket List is easily the hardest list I have created. Perhaps because means I have to not only reach out to those I have hurt but then admit my faults to them. So how can someone fail when trying to say they are sorry? 

1) I haven’t even tried yetA typewriter typing a letter that says I am sorry in hopes of Making Amends

The Fail:

When it comes to making amends, I am a Failure! Why? Because, even though I think about the various people on the list that I have wronged, I have yet to take action. At one point, I tried to find one of the people on my list. But it was a struggle to connect with them and thus I just stopped trying.

How this Failure Leads to Success:

To be honest, it is hard to find success here. Now let me clarify that success will not be measured by obtaining forgiveness from those whom I hurt. Rather, success comes in admitting my faults to the person whom I hurt. Also, when I share here, it not only humbles me but reminds me that I need to try harder. So hopefully my failure leads to success by recommitting myself to try again. 

My Failure to Help Others that led to Success

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. But can you actually be a failure when you help others? Maybe. Now don’t get me wrong there is no better way to leave your mark on the world than by finding ways to help others. Plus, there are even studies that helping others can even help you live longer. However, sometimes you might do a bit more harm than good if you don’t plan properly or try to cut corners. 

1) Our Little Library made us ashamed of our-SHELVESA Tardis style Little Library that leaked and ultimately broke

The Fail:

I am not a good carpenter! Not that it is beyond my skill set but I neither have the tools nor the patience to build something with my hands. But that didn’t stop me from wanting to build a Little Library to put out in front of my house. Of course in typical fashion, I had dreams of grandeur of the coolest looking little library packed with books where people would stop by to pick up or share. But rather than buying an official kit from the Little Free Library association, I came up with a “genius” idea to use an old wine crate! Of course, I had great intentions and it all started out great. But having it in New Orleans where it rains all the time or is humid most other days, it all became a big problem. Instead of helping my community with a fun book exchange, my cutting corners lead to a moldy science experiment!  

How this Failure Leads to Success:

Unless the goal was to spread black mold or test the relative breakdown rates of paperback novels, then it is pretty obvious that my little library was a bust. But throughout the whole process, I learned a lot about how to do it better the next time. I realized that if I wanted to create a unique little library for my Irish Channel neighborhood, then I need to figure out how to deal with environmental factors. It also reminded me that there are no short cuts when trying to do something right! Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t do it differently or better, but you have to do it right. Otherwise, you might be sending someone home with a book that even Dr. Who can’t fix.

2) I took my best friend on a Death MarchBrian Simpson & Eric Gamble Hiking the PCT from Mount Whitney to Mammoth California

The Fail:

One of my favorite Helping Others Bucket List items is by far #103) Fulfill 1 Bucket List Item for Anyone who helps me with 1 of mine! It is such an amazing feeling when someone gets to tick off a dream item because of your efforts. So, when my best friend Brian shared that he always dreamed of summitting Mt. Whitney and then backpacking the Pacific Crest Trail, I jumped at the chance to make his dream come true. But there was one problem, Brian was a beginner backpacker and not 100% ready for the physical demands of the trail. Don’t get me wrong, he trained. But with all my personal hiking experience I should have directed him better when we planned out our trek. Instead of starting at a pace of 8-10 miles each day, and then slowly working upwards, we planned most days at 15 or more. This wouldn’t have been too bad except that we had to cross over a million peaks of the Sierra Nevada from the Whitney Portal. 

How this Failure Leads to Success:

Luckily we took care of summitting Mount Whitney by day 2. So at least we were able to succeed at standing at the highest point above sea level in the lower 48 states. But by day 5, Brian was done and I was pretty beat up as well. It was a pretty humbling as we sat at the Twin Lakes about 23 miles from Lone Pine. But in that moment of humility, we learned that when life throws us obstacles we can easily change course. Even though we hadn’t made it to Mammoth Lakes we could still enjoy the moment. Instead, we relaxed, met some friends who let us fly fish with them, and recovered in some of the most beautiful parts of California. 

My Failure to keep this post short leads to SuccessDarcee and Eric riding a bus to a Spartan Mud Run where they almost died

If you made it this far, congrats! You survived another session with little Eric-Talks-A-Lot! But hopefully, you had a great laugh as we shared our different types of failure. I am sure by reading all the bloopers we have had chasing the many items on the Bucket List Project, you realize that we obviously Love to Fail! But, also, I hope you learned that there are many benefits to failure and that it isn’t always a bad thing.

So now it is your turn! Do you think failure leads to success? Have you ever botched something so bad but still found success? What are some of the best bucket list fails you have ever seen or experienced? Share with us in the comments below and maybe help someone who may be dealing with a similar failure.

Don’t forget to Pin this to your favorite Personal Growth Bucket List Board!Pinterest Picture of 4 images of Eric Gamble failing during different bucket list adventures

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