Daughter Two had decided to write a book.  It was going to be on Failure.  She worked at it in her usual focused fashion, and blow me, it was accepted for publication by Malcolm Down/Sarah Grace publications.

She then had to face the fact that people might actually buy her book and read it.  She is an introvert who has been very honest in it about her own failures and questions.  So, scared stiff (she physically shook all through her speech) she begged us all to go and support her at her book launch, and we duly arrived on the hottest day so far this year.

I had no idea what to expect, but it was a lovely occasion, held in a nice cafe in the park, with nibbles and drinks and around 100 people present.  (I know!  100!)  I discovered that there were also to be speeches.

Do you know, I enjoyed these so much, finding them refreshingly honest and thought -provoking, that I have decided to post them on my blog.  So I kick off with Daughter 2.  Her sense of humour is evident all through the book, too!

Book launch speech, 29th June 2019: Caris Grimes, Consultant Surgeon and Author


Nobody in their right mind wakes up one morning and decides that they want to write a book on failure.  Now, some of you may doubt whether I have ever been in my right mind, but lets put that aside for now!

The context in which I did so is this:

In 2011, my marriage came to an end after 14 years which left me with a sense of failure.

I then went through 5 years of being both single mum and fulltime surgical trainee and feeling that I was doing neither well.  I was not at home enough to be what I thought a good mum should be and I wasn’t at work enough to fulfil my own expectations of what a good surgical trainee is.

I then became a consultant and had to start taking responsibility for my own complications and the impact of my decision-making.

Then as special punishment for the new consultant, my department asked me to take on the role of Patient Safety Lead and Mortality Lead in General Surgery – which has ultimately led me to investigating Serious Incidents – such as potentially avoidable death.

Then, if that wasn’t enough, I decided to set up a Bereavement Service, to allow bereaved families to come back and ask any questions or raise any concerns they may have.

I therefore found that I was dealing with some aspect of failure fairly frequently, and did not feel that I really understood failure enough to do it well.

As a Christian, I also felt that God was calling me to write  a book on failure and I didn’t want to do it.  Every time I felt a little nagging – “write the book, write the book” I would say No.  I explained to God that there are many things that I would like to be known for and to be good at, but failure has never been on the agenda.

It came to a head one evening when I was praying and I felt the nagging again – “write the book, write the book”.  In exasperation I said to God “OK! I will write this blinking book but on one condition. I want you to give me one example, from the Bible, of someone who did everything well and still failed catastrophically. Because if I’m going to write a book, I don’t want to just write in on error, I want to write it on that sense of failure you can have even when you are doing everything to your best ability.”

I shut my eyes and had a sudden, immediate and clear picture of the cross of Jesus. I was gobsmacked.

“Ok.., God…” I said, “Can I just clarify? Are we now calling Jesus a failure?  And if we are, are you asking me to write a book for which my non-Christian friends, family and colleagues are going to think that I am a lunatic, and my Christian friends, family and colleagues are going to think I am a heretic??”

Ladies and Gentleman, friends, family and colleagues, I have been reassured that for those of you who know me that none of you can possibly think of me as any more of a lunatic or a heretic than you already do by me writing a book. … Which I guess is reassurance of sorts !

Finally, there are four take home messages for tonight on failure:

1. Failure is everywhere. There is no part of our lives, no organisation and no industry that failure, feelings of failure or fear of failure does not effect from time to time.  And yet our bookshops are littered with books on success.

2. Failure can be extremely painful. It can be associated with very strong negative emotions of shame, guilt and fear.  We need to support friends, family and colleagues who are experiencing these.

From a healthcare point of view, no healthcare professional goes into work with the intention of causing harm.  And therefore, when a healthcare professional or professionals are involved in anyway in a failure, then there is no-one who can blame and condemn them for their role more than they do themselves. Therefore, a culture of blame in our relationships or in our organisations is not just counter-productive, it stops individuals and the organisations learning.

3. Failing Intelligently is hard. Failing well involves not being defined by your failure, but seeing it as separate from you and a tool to help you learn. It also involves taking responsibility for your part in failure, apologising and learning from it.  But this is difficult. It is difficult at work and it is even more difficult at home. I am sure that if you twisted my husband’s arm hard enough he may just admit that, although I have written the book, that when we argue, I am not the best at failing well.

4. Failure is important.  Research from organisations, education and individuals show a similar theme. That those that only ever succeed, ultimately fail.  But those that learn to fail well, ultimately succeed because failing well leads to adaptability, versatility and resilience.

Please do buy the book. I have tried to keep it short and sweet.  My stubbornness and belligerence meant that I was not prepared to write a book more than five chapters long. I would love to receive positive feedback on the book. But I also need to receive the negative feedback too, because without this I cannot fail intelligently.

Thank you.





  1. Wow!!! That is sooooo cool! All my prayers for Caris and of course she is a role model for a lot of us… ❤ Big hugs Gill…xxoo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Rosh! How are you? What’s your news? Do you want to DM me?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Gill, Sorry for the delayed reply. I am not that frequent in the blog these days, trying to write more.. 🙂 I will Whataspp you? May be? xxoo

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Goodness me! What a high achiever your daughter is! You must be incredibly proud of her!!! Congratulations, I hope her book flies of the shelves. Such wonderful news! Hopefully your book is next!!!xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Dina! The thing that REALLY shocked me is that she … went out and bought herself a new dress for the occasion. Caz! in a shop!! Buying herself a dress!!! She really must have been massively scared 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ahhhh….that’s what I do when forced to do stuff I don’t want to do,xxxx

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s a strange thing, but, the less confident I get, the more I”m pushed into the limelight re the rescue,….it’s relentless and is driving me crackers…your thoughts on this would be welcome. I hate talking live on radio and tv……xxx

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Caz said she learned her speech off by heart, but shook all the time she was practising, and on the day took her notes in with her! Then I was amazed to notice that Han (eldest daughter), who can quell a classroom of inner-city teenagers with just a LOOK, was equally nervous – I could see the paper shaking in her hands. And I know I ALWAYS get really nervous when I have to do stuff in public … my experience is that if God wants you to do something, it is just tough if you’re nervous … but I pray about it (if you don’t pray you could meditate or be mindful) … then I prepare really, really well (probably over prepare!) … then set my jaw and march out with steely determination. (or not!!) :)) xx

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Gill, is there any chance I could copy and paste this as I think my readers would relate to it and inspire then to have a go ? x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would love you to do that! I’ll also post the other speeches over the next few days. Feel free to plunder anything you like 🙂


      1. Oh great I will get this sorted for the blog in the next few days and send you the link x

        Liked by 1 person

  4. You must be soooooo proud Gill, congratulations. She is far from a failure but a total triumph on her part to have a go. Thanks for sharing xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am really proud of her, Bar, but she never stands still – I can’t keep up and I am not quite sure when she has time to breathe!!


  5. CONGRATULATIONS… a very interesting subject and perspective on it. It sounds like a sort of inverted positivity.


    1. I’ll post the other speeches in due course – I found it very interesting to see their different takes on the subject.


      1. I have just been looking at the other speeches, through a link on the launch site. It all reminds me of a book I was given years ago. Not the same focus but, part of the family that is highlighted. “Feel The Fear [And Do It Anyway”]. i would add with a deep intake of oxygen.


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