Whether it’s personal or a professional failure like Nabisco’s recent Watermelon Oreos (WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?! WHY?), it’s safe to say we’ve all experienced failure. Maybe because it’s the new year or maybe because I’m working on new ideas or maybe it’s the weather, but I’ve been thinking about this.
But is this bad? Is falling flat on your face such a bad thing? I’m not saying it’s easy to deal with, because let’s keep things real – it’s terrible. It’s embarrassing. It’s frustrating and it can take some of the wind out of our sails. But more and more I’ve learned life is as much defined by success as it is with failure. Maybe even more so. Not only the experience, but what we do with it.
I find myself wanting to give up after failing. I’ve had approx. 87 blogs before this one and Books and Beverages. When an article wasn’t picked up for publication, I told myself I should stop writing. When a guy broke things off, it sucked because no one openly embraces or loves rejection (although praise the Lord Jesus none of those relationships worked out. Have you had those? Yikes. Bikes right? ;). When I managed to burn a crock pot recipe (that takes skill people), I think I ate take out for a week straight. Some hurt more than others (losing a job probably hurts a bit more than burning cookies), sure, but it’s life right?
Gold is refined in fire. Many battles were lost before the Allied troops freed Europe (I blame that reference on the history podcast I’ve been listening to). My Dad asked my Mom out seven times before she said yes (when a man knows what he wants…he knows right? #perseverance 🙂 ). There’s some things we can only learn in failure.
One of my favorite quotes says it best. In 1920, President Theodore Roosevelt gave a speech in France & said these famous words:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
In The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmond Dantès shares these wise words to a young man coming of age: “Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man [or woman] is what you do when that storm comes.”
When I think of my dreams, goals, things I want in my life, it’s easy for me to want to toss them out the window because it’s scary (i.e. writing this blog!), but I need these daily reminders that life is often hard work and it might not work out as planned. When you’re following where the Lord is leading, while it might not be easy, it will always be worth it.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
It’s not if you fail, for as humans we all will, but what you do when failure meets you face to face. So dare greatly, dream big and don’t let the fear of failure stop you – in whatever it is you’re pursuing!
“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” Winston S. Churchill
Have you experienced this recently? What are some lessons you’ve learned in failure?