Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better: Wise Advice for Leaning into the Unknown” as Want to Read:
Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better: Wise Advice for Leaning into the Unknown
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better: Wise Advice for Leaning into the Unknown

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  2,048 ratings  ·  267 reviews
When her granddaughter was accepted to Naropa University, the celebrated author Pema Chödrön promised that she’d speak at the commencement ceremony. Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better contains the wisdom shared on that day.

“What do we do when life doesn’t go the way we hoped?” begins Pema “We say, ‘I’m a failure.” But what if failing wasn’t just “okay,” but the most direct way
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published September 1st 2015 by Sounds True
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better, please sign up.
Recent Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,048 ratings  ·  267 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better: Wise Advice for Leaning into the Unknown
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-reads
It has been a while since I read anything by Pema Chodron. I had forgotten how beautifully she writes. Her words are clear, concise and hopeful. I found this piece to be encouraging: make mistakes, hold them in your heart, learn and grow from them.

An easy read, but one to savour.
Sep 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
From my review on Zezee with Books:

Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better is a commencement speech given by Pema Chödrön, an American Buddhist nun, at her granddaughter’s graduation from the University of Boulder, Colorado back in 2014. The speech is followed by an interview with Chödrön that’s just as insightful if you’re open to the message. Chödrön’s message on embracing failure centers on a quote from the poet Samuel Beckett:

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Stephen Simpson
Very disappointing. In the version I read, there was a great deal of "white space", and the actual text itself probably could have fit on maybe 20 pages. Not only that, the contents themselves were vague and lacked much insight. There really wasn't much of any use here about surviving/"processing" failure, learning from it, and accepting it as an inevitable part of the growth process.

Author JK Rowling gave a commencement address (at Harvard, I believe) that is a far better discussion of the valu
We don't like to think about failure - we sweep it under the rug, hide it away, and are often ashamed. Yet, everyone has failed at something. Chodron, in her remarkable style, expounds on this fact. The book includes a commencement speech that she delivered at her granddaughter's university graduation, and a thoughtful and open interview about her own failures and how she frames them in the context of her life.
Mindy Kannon
Dec 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: inspirational
I love everything this woman writes. Pema Chodron was invited to give the commencement address to the 2014 graduating class of the Naropa University in Boulder Colorado. This book is that speech followed by a question and answer session. The things she says are so useful and so simple to understand. When things go wrong we will do anything to avoid that bad feeling, we either blame someone else or identify ourselves as a bad person. Instead, we should lean into that bad feeling and examine what ...more
May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Organized and well thought reflections on what meaning there is in failure and being able to stand up in the face of it. Compilation of a commencement speech the author gave in 2014, and an interview in which the author has with the publisher of Sounds True.
Robin Tobin (On the back porch reading)
A quick must-read that changes your life
Stephanie Barko
Oct 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This title was the October 2016 selection of South Austin Spiritual Book Group, a reading group that loves Buddhist philosophy.

The book is a transcript of Pema's 2014 commencement address to Naropa University, plus an interview at the end.

I learned some new things about Pema's personal journey reading the interview and was glad it was there. The commencement address was great advice for Millennials about the how to respond to the type of world they are inheriting and good advice for all of us t
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A quick read, but including some really refreshing ideas to keep thinking about.

Really love this book. Here's a part that stood out to me:
"All I can say is, 'If you follow your heart, you're gonna feel better than if you hold back because of fear.' But when you follow your heart ...there is no guarantee that the whole thing won't be a total failure, and there's no guarantee that you're not going to get criticisms. You'll get praise and blame is the usual scenario.
The question is, are you go
Chris Blocker
It's strange that I picked up this book, even more so that I read it. This isn't my thing. But I was having one of those moments when I felt like stepping out of my comfort zone and there before me was this book and its pretty cover. I started to read it and by the time I realized I was bored, I was more than half way through and figured I might as well finish it.

So, yeah, pretty typical self-help zen writing, but with a pretty, albeit simple, cover. Embrace your failures. Learn from them. That'
Gregory Williams
I’m a fan of Pema Chodron’s works, ever since I first read When Things Fall Apart years ago. There is a wise simplicity to her discussions that resonate with anyone.

This piece is pretty short and simple - it’s a commencement address she did for a graduating class, followed by an interview with a journalist. As always, she looks at things from a different lens and telling graduating college students to fail may seem counterintuitive but it’s actually great advice. Because it will happen. And it’s
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fear is also ultimate possibility.
Craig Bergland
This book is a classic example of trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill by turning - or attempting to turn - a commencement speech into a book by adding a drawing on every other page. What there is for content is great, as Pema always is. The layout on the ebook is terrible with font size that varies broadly from page to page and cannot be adjusted - and is always way too small. Overall, it’s a shit show.
Sleepless Dreamer
Jun 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yesterday, a friend of mine told me, "But Roni, you like making yourself uncomfortable." And another friend (there was so much socializing yesterday, dear god) told me about how he is becoming more and more aware of how much is out of his control. He was describing this as a positive thing, an understanding that a failing relationship is not his fault, that whether someone wants to be with him or not is not in his control.

I've been thinking a lot about those two statements and the connection be
Jun 17, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs-bio
This was a strange "book." The main part of it was a speech that Ms. Chodron gave at a relative's graduation. It is poignant and interesting, but it is organized strangely. I suppose to fill the book, the publisher decided to put a few sentences, maybe two paragraphs maximum, on one page, with a symbol on the opposing page. So, to read maybe ten pages of full text, you flip through, almost as you would a children's picture book. After that, there is a transcript of an interview with Ms. Chodron. ...more
Feb 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found the interview section of this book much more impactful and worth reading than the speech section. Although the speech was great, the transcription of the one-on-one interview with Chödrön was amazing. I'm interested in reading more of her books. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for some insight on failure, moving forward and just being human.
Mark Robison
Jan 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is probably best “read” on audio as it contains a commencement address, followed by an interview delving into the implications and possible concerns about embracing failure. Pema’s humor doesn’t come across as well on the printed page, but she’s funny and brilliant live. Grade: A-
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Failure is inevitable

But Pema Chodron offers realistic advice to fail better. I love what she says about moving forward, keep moving forward. Her writing is down to earth and easy to understand.
Jan 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I could, this book deserves ten stars. Pema has a way of describing things plainly and profoundly. She is helping me sort through so much in my life. If you are struggling with thinking you are all alone in your pain and frustration, you need to read Pema's books.
great message for writers. you've heard it before, but need to jear it again
Bibi Larson
Oct 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love this book - it was very enlightening and made so much sense. Great!!!
Greg Bem
Apr 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quick mindfulness work that everyone should read because of how open it is!
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
I don't often do self-help, inspirational, spiritual books - I don't find much use in them to be honest (largely this has to do with I feel like I'm failing if I don't meet the criteria they set forth as "examples"...which is an entirely DIFFERENT issue). This one however I came upon at BEA a couple years back and was caught by the design and title.

To be clear this is a transcribed copy of Chödrön's commencement speech given at her granddaughter's university graduation. As such, while everything
Jun 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A commencement speech about failure and what's the best attitude to face failure.
In short, you have to stop the bad self-talk or the blame game, then ask the right questions, observe and acknowledge your emotions/feelings, finally change your attitude or view of failure.
Understanding well that through failure you can bring out your best hidden human qualities and that you always have a choice to get curious and enthusiastic about what is really happening underneath, you gets better and better at
Mark Valentine
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A friend suggested I read this--wait a minute!

So I did. I figured it couldn't hurt and like the title suggests, it might teach me how to fail better.

And it didn't fail! I learned that the regrets I have in my life are the compost for growing rich and healthy things and if I didn't have that organic waste, the fruit of my actions might not be so plump. I learned that each failure is a "portal of discovery" (Joyce's expression) and should be embraced as an opportunity. It showed me that success
Sep 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of the many sort of gimmicky books that are graduation speeches published in hardcover, this is one that I actually recommend. Graduating into a pandemic/massive economic downturn/era of escalating fascism/climate crisis/continued state-sponsored assault on Black lives/whatever else 2020 ends up throwing at us is not always pleasant, and Chödrön's words on failure as a place of real humanity have helped me reframe tough days when they do come around. The idea that when things don't turn out how ...more
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a short, great read on the importance of failing well (oh, the irony). Pema Chodron spoke about failure at her granddaughter's commencement ceremony and there is a subsequent interview transcript that goes more in-depth about failure and how to fail well. This is a book that everyone really should read and with it being so short, it'll literally take no time at all. Pema Chodron is a Buddhist and so, some of the principles are laid out as she explains how to fail well. On a personal lev ...more
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This little book got to me with a few paragraphs of things that I really needed to hear. For what it's worth, I preferred the interview (Second half of the book) and not the actual commencement speech.
Debby Hallett
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A scant hour of reading. Very good lessons about how we can move forward through even the most limiting beliefs of being wrong.
A commencement speech speaking about failing and getting back up to keep trying. Includes a pretty extensive interview with the author.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Taming the Tiger Within: Meditations on Transforming Difficult Emotions
  • What Smart Women Know
  • The Myth of Freedom and the Way of Meditation
  • Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm
  • Kaizen: The Japanese Method for Transforming Habits, One Small Step at a Time
  • Real Change: Mindfulness to Heal Ourselves and the World
  • Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience
  • Radical Compassion: Learning to Love Yourself and Your World with the Practice of RAIN
  • Happiness: Essential Mindfulness Practices
  • The Heart of Understanding: Commentaries on the Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra
  • Freeing Yourself from Anxiety: 4 Simple Steps to Overcome Worry and Create the Life You Want
  • Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures
  • No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering
  • Becoming Nobody: The Essential Ram Dass Collection
  • The Three Questions: How to Discover and Master the Power Within You
  • Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness
  • Kick Ass with Mel Robbins Life-Changing Advice from the Author of “The 5 Second Rule”
  • Unnatural Selection (book three of the Vampyre Tales)
See similar books…
Ani Pema Chödrön (Deirdre Blomfield-Brown) is an American Buddhist nun in the Tibetan tradition, closely associated with the Kagyu school and the Shambhala lineage.

She attended Miss Porter's School in Connecticut and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. She taught as an elementary school teacher for many years in both New Mexico and California. Pema has two children and three g

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
10 likes · 6 comments
“The question is, are you going to grow or are you going to just stay as you are out of fear and waste your precious human life by status quo-ing instead of being willing to break the sound barrier? Break the glass ceiling, or whatever it is in your own life? Are you willing to go forward? I suggest finding the willingness to go forward instead of staying still, which is essentially going backward, particularly when you have a calling in some direction. That calling needs to be answered. And it’s not necessarily going to work out the way you want it to work out, but it is taking you forward, and you are leaving the nest. And that never can be a mistake—to fly instead of staying in the nest with all the poop and everything that’s in there. TS:” 6 likes
“In other words, I would say that the drive to blame ourselves or others comes from our inability to stay present with what is, because the sense of failure challenges us. It’s uncomfortable, unpleasant.” 3 likes
More quotes…