Failure. Ugh. My brain wants to avoid it at all costs. No one wants to be a failure. But I’ve decided I should fail more often.
This week I read an article listing 50 top NFL draft busts. Each person on the list had high hopes of a lucrative pro football career. But every name on the list was a bust. Their hopes of NFL greatness crashed against the wall of reality.
Some men on the failure list never recovered. One became a criminal who died of a drug overdose. A couple of them could not be located. Another got busted for trying to break into a house to finance a drug habit. Failure in the NFL defined many men on the list.
But some used their failure, turning it into a different kind of success. One NFL draft bust uses his knowledge to teach football fundamentals to kids. Another is the head of a vitamin company. And another failure is a motivational speaker who shares his story to encourage others.
What makes the difference? Why do some failures cripple, while others propel to success? It is because they learned to embrace the positive benefits of failure. This list of 3 “failure benefits” makes me realize I need to fail more often.
When we fail more often it means we are being humbled.
The Early Christian Church had a list of the seven deadly sins. They pointed to one of the seven as being the deadliest: pride.
Pride gone wild is not pretty. The world revolves around the one filled with pride. People and objects exist for the use of the prideful. A person consumed by pride operates under a moral code which allows any action as long as it makes one feel or look good. People afflicted with pride are not teachable. Pride is the deadliest of sins.
This is why failure can be a good thing. It breaks down the kind of pride that destroys. It makes us teachable. It reminds us we need to work hard. We learn the universe really does not revolve around us.
Failure is the bitter pill we need to swallow to cure the deadly sickness of pride. [Click to Tweet]
When we fail more often it means we are still trying.
Failure is never final until we stop trying. Failure is only fatal when we give up.
What would you call someone who failed 7 out of 10 times? A loser? What kind of person do you picture when you think of someone who only has a 30% success rate? Homeless? Poor? Dirty? Broken?
I picture a millionaire who signs autographs, drives a fancy car, and lives in a big house. Huh? Professional baseball players who have a consistent batting average of 300 sign lucrative contracts. Seven out of 10 times at the plate they fail. Yes, that profession is unique. But what if a player focused on all of his failures and stopped swinging the bat?
Maybe we should redefine the successful person as one who never stops swinging the bat. More failures means we are still swinging the bat. Fail and fail often.
When we fail more often it means we receive opportunities to learn valuable lessons.
Think again of the professional baseball player. The best hitters are those who analyze what went wrong each time they strike out. They don’t just shrug and say, “You win some, you lose some.” Nope. They carefully analyze each swing of the bat. Each strike is an opportunity to learn a valuable lesson.
What was your last failure? Did you stop to think what that failure could teach you? Did you ask yourself the important question, “What can I learn from this failure?” If not, you are missing great opportunities to improve your life.
Fail and fail boldly. But after each failure make sure you learn the valuable lesson wrapped in each of those disappointments. [Click to Tweet]
Humbly keep swinging the bat as you learn your way to the best life ever.
What important lesson did you learn from your most recent failure?
I just read the other day that there is not enough failure. It is interesting because we try to create an environment for ourselves not to fail. That in itself appears to be a failure.
In Agile technology development work the concept is to fail early in a project of code writing so that the mistake can be identified, correct and better computer code written. Project teams do this by having short iterations of the work. In the old method called Waterfall, the entire project was done sometimes before the failures were discovered costing the companies much more in terms of finance and time. I’ve heard it said in business especially in the Agile work environment that if you share your failure early it is our problem to work on together, but if you share your failure late it is your problem. I believe these information technology practices can be used within Christian community. Sharing of our failures and in our lack of knowledge in a trusted environment where vulnerability is safe leads to growth.
Fail early. I like that!
If you are going to fail, fail forward.
Yes!! Thanks for joining the conversation.
Great comments. I remember well my 25 years at Western Rubber. Heat, breathing rubber smoke, lifting heavy steel. I never meant to sta that long! I finally went back to school for a degree in Mechanical Enginering Technology. After I graduated, I was on my way. I felt it was God telling me to get out of there. (Also my aching bones, arthritis, tennis elbow, and heat exhaustion in the summer.) I graduated in from Purdue/ Ft. Wayne in 1988. I was on my way! I applied for engineering tech jobs every where. I was going home and studying to make sure I kept up on my CAD work so I would not fall behind when my time came. I did get a part time design job in Goshen which didn’t last long. I had to hang on to my full time job to make ends meet. After that part time job was done, I got another. After a few weeks, I got fired. I was blown away. How could this happen if it was God’s will for me? I kept looking for that exciting career God had for me. More resumes, and still studying at home on my own. Finally I applied for a job in Piercton doing what I was trained to do. When did I get it, 1997? It was almost 9 years from the time I graduated, until I got that job. I have had a rewarding careersince then at 2 orthopedic companies at Warsaw. ( the orthopedic capital of the world. I drive by that old rubber shop, where now exists a city block of grass. Did I really spend 25 years there? I hope I influenced some people in the right way, and learned the lessons I was supposed to learn, but the road was marked with many failures.
Of course I know your story but it is powerful to see you capture it in so few words. I am proud of what you did!
Looking back over the past 30-odd years, I can see that each “failure” taught me ten times more than all of my successes COMBINED.
Still swinging that bat …
Hey! Thanks for your comment. BTW, my mom was a “Lykins,” An unusual name. I’m sure we R related somehow,