“I want to grow up to be a failure,” said no one, ever.
Everyone wants to be a success. From as young as we can remember, we are told, You can do anything! But that simply isn’t true, is it? Although they are well-intentioned, parents do a disservice when they tell kids that they are winners at everything. They end up teaching their children to believe that to fail at something is bad.
It makes sense to assume that failure is negative: When you fail, you feel the pain of embarrassment and inadequacy. The pain that comes from failing is enough to make many run back under the covers, and keep you firmly within your comfort zone.
But when you avoid failure, you are short-changing yourself. You may think you are protecting yourself. But in reality, you are keeping yourself trapped.
When you look at failure not as a pain, but as a gift, you open yourself up to these successful traits:
- Opportunity. When you stop focusing on failure, you will notice all the doors around you that are opening. We live in a world of endless possibilities, and we serve a God who can do exceedingly, abundantly above what we can imagine (Eph 3:20). But if you have all your attention trained on failure, or the risk of failure, you will miss the opportunities that He places on your path.
- Humility. Why is humility such a dirty word in our society? We can’t all possibly be good at everything. But when you take the easy road, you actually begin to believe that you have a golden touch. A good dose of failure can open your eyes to seeing that you were riding on pride’s coattails and it got you nowhere. I personally like being limited. I know what I am good at and I know what I’m not. How did I learn this? Failure. Focusing on what I do well is a lot more fun and rewarding. If I didn’t fail, I wouldn’t know what I might be wasting my time on.
- Perspective. When you fail at something, you give yourself the chance to see things in a whole new light. Often times God will allow you to go through something seemingly terrible to begin to change your perspective. Have you ever thought that perhaps He needs your new perspective to bring you to new levels? (Matthew 9:17)
- Optimism. There’s one thing that I have seen consistently lacking in all people who fear failure: optimism. Optimism doesn’t say or think that everything is perfect, but it does say that tomorrow will be a better day. It says that it’s worth trying again and again and again. It keeps you going even when the road appears bumpy.
In order enjoy the gift of failure you must get comfortable with things not being perfect, maybe things not working out at all. You must be able to work through the struggles and the disappointments and the head-scratching mistakes. This takes work. You may need to employ the help of a friend or a counselor, but when you are able to do this, you go from being a dreamer/avoider to a dreamer/doer.
By Kris Reece, Counselor, Author, Speaker
What’s something you’re happy you failed at?