Successful Utahns turn failures into opportunities

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 14 2014 6:00 a.m. MST

"So many of my failures were guiding lights to where I needed to be," Gledhill said.

For Meghan Stettler, news and current affairs producer at Al Jazeera America and Made Woman magazine's December Made Woman of the Month, her guidance came in the form of a $50 bill.

She graduated with double majors in broadcast and music dance theater from BYU and began working as an on-the street interviewer for L'Oreal, Microsoft and Apple. Things looked bright for her future.

However, she soon got sick and realized that she was not using all of her talents in her current job. Stettler's love of singing was put on hold when her voice deteriorated as a result of her illness.

At 24, Stettler returned home from her job in New York with the skin peeling off her eyelids and looking horrible.

Stettler became a waitress, making about $15 a day and wondered how she would create a new life for herself.

One day an older couple visited the restaurant and after chatting with Stettler, left her a $50 tip with a note that read: "We believe that you have what it takes to be successful. Good luck in your endeavors."

She keeps the bill in a frame on her wall to remind her that even in the worst times, there are kind people who come to help.

After graduate school and working for KCET, the nation's biggest independent public TV station, Stettler made her way back to New York. She created a detailed plan A and a plan B, in case the first didn't work out — something she said she always does.

"People don't know about all of the plan A's that I had along the way. They just see all the very successful plan B's."

Her current job is the plan B, she said.

Her life has followed a motto she learned from her mom: "There's no such thing as failure. It's either a success or an education." To which Stettler adds: "And a really good story."

Stettler embraces the idea that life is a series of systems, rather than goals, something Adams also promotes in his book.

Once she hits a goal, she starts looking for ways to move forward.

She has learned that in order to achieve success, "you have to learn how to fail."

"I've been in that place where it's like the world loses its color and everything turns grey and you feel like you're sort of trapped in a box and you'll never get out," she said.

These times are temporary, she said, and can be used as learning tools.

"You're not your failures, you're not your successes. Your identity is just you and what you love to do."

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