How to Turn a #Fail Into #Winning

“What if nobody gives a shit?”  
“I don’t have a fall-back plan.”
“I don’t think I can take another failure.”

This was me three years ago about to launch my personal business as a nutrition coach and chef.  You could say I was afraid of failing.

Fear of failure can be  paralyzing. I’ve fallen flat on my face countless times and have certainly  dealt with more personal turmoil  in a decade than most people have in a lifetime. But when I look back on my life, I realize that my failures are a part of me and have led me to exactly where I’m supposed to be.  Here’s how I turned all my fears and failures into a big ball of hustle (and occasionally fury) and used them to get where I am today.  

1. Be Confident in Your Strength
My strength is simple: I’m a nutrition expert and chef who is awesome at creating easy, restaurant-style recipes that get people fit.  I may not work in a restaurant or be a Top Chef contender, but I excel at crafting flavorful recipes people can make at home to let go of dieting and get fit with the food they love. And that’s powerful. Other chefs might look at me and roll their eyes.  But I have learned not to care. I know what I’m doing, I do it well consistently, and people are noticing.

2. Start Small  
If you told me three years ago that I had to build a beautiful website, become a skilled food photographer, create a popular online presence with thousands of followers, spend 15 hours per recipe to feature on my website once a week in between developing recipes for companies, lead engaging nutrition presentations for hundreds of participants, while trying to become a TV chef, I probably would have chewed my fingers right off! But I made the decision early on not to torture myself with doing everything at once.

Instead, I started very small with a single folder on my laptop labeled “My Future Show” (my dream is to one day host my own cooking show.) And I added to it, bit by bit. Now my computer is maddeningly slow because it’s bogged down with recipe images and projects I’m working on. Had I not put my business idea out into the universe with that single folder, I probably never would have gotten started at all. So start small – get your idea out there.  Even if you’re the only one that sees it at first.

3. Be Yourself No Matter What
I grew up 20 minutes south of Boston.  I’m sarcastic, tough, straight-forward, loving, and probably say what I’m thinking when I shouldn’t a little too often. And I’ve learned to always be me, no matter who I meet or what project I’m working on. Who I am, the real me, shines through in my words and in my presence. And people respect me for it. In today’s world of uniqueness and virtual sharing, if you blend in, you get bypassed. So follow the successful people that you admire and recognize their strengths and what they are doing well, but then take what you have learned and make it your own.  Because trying to be someone you’re not is guaranteed to lead to failure…every time.

4. Use Your Failures to Your Advantage
In my mid-20s, I suffered a severe back injury that basically left me bedridden for an entire year. It took me five years to recover from that injury. During that time I lost my independence, a lot of sleep, thousands and thousands of dollars spent on rehabbing – I can’t even bring myself to write down how much – and was in more pain than anyone should ever have to feel. But I worked really hard at my recovery and slowly felt like myself again. This was short-lived however, because eight months later, I was hit by a drunk driver while riding in the back of a cab. After the car accident, my spinal cord looked and felt like a Jenga game, none of the pieces lining up the way they should. I had PTSD, severe migraines and didn’t sleep for years. Trust me when I say, I had many “What the hell did I do to deserve this?” moments.

But I can also remember those long days staring up at the ceiling feeling humbled and realizing all that I had learned about myself. I’m strong. And I was going to get through this. Ironically, I even started to build my business during this time.  

Failure can do that to you. Sometimes you have to let failure break you, but only if you build yourself up stronger and better.  

What did you learn?  
How have you given back?  
How are you stronger?  

Get angry if you have to. But then use that fury and pain to build a better, kinder, stronger you.

Do I have it all figured out? Hell no. I’m still scared sometimes. But I let those fears fuel me. I’m working on some exciting yet terrifying projects right now that I never thought I would have the guts to pull off. I was even recently on a TV show featuring the top restaurant chefs in the country and it aired in 60 million households, earning my right to officially call myself a “TV Chef.”

Just remember this: If you don’t do it, someone else will. I always think about how I would feel sitting back and watching someone else live my dream because I was too afraid to. And nothing scares me more than that.

Nutrition expert & chef Valerie Cogswell has personally coached thousands of clients to let go of dieting and get fit with the food they love. She specializes in teaching her clients to create easy, restaurant-style meals that naturally boost their metabolism, and look and feel their best. You can learn more about Valerie and her recipes at


Valerie Cogswell