How to Fail Well

Life Lesson # 2

Upon first thinking about writing this, I had to organize the myriad thoughts running through my head about the word “failure.” I didn’t want this post to be one of those worn-out, cliched, turn-something-negative-into-a-positive posts. I wanted to give you guys, my readers, some brain-food, something your mind could chew on. So, here it goes:

Think about the last time you failed at something. I’m not talking about the last time you failed to call someone back on the phone, or the time you forgot to pick your kid up from soccer practice. As painful as it might be, I want you to think about the last time you fell and fell hard. The last time you were an emotional wreck, incapable of forming words (because whatever you were going through was that painful to talk about). Get the picture? Good, because if there is anything I’ve learned from life’s most unpleasant friend, it is that you can fail, spiral into one of your darkest depressions, suffer through one of your most tumultuous life situations, and you can recover.

Ah, now you’re thinking, here’s where the cliches come in,

“No matter how many times you fail, try, try again.” Or “Every great person that experiences success in the world has failed at something.”

Although those statements are true, and helpful for some people, they miss the mark because they are generic and impersonal. The key ingredient missing in those cliches is the idea of failing “well.” As a person who has failed at many things, tests, meeting the status quo, friendships, ect., I know how bad it feels to face the pain of failure and loss. In fact, the pain I’ve felt after failing at something is almost tripled according to how much effort I put in trying not to fail. So, in order to stop beating myself up about all of the things I could’ve done differently to avoid failure, I learned the inevitable:

1. Because I am human, I will make mistakes for as long as I live.

2. I can fail “well” by reminding myself that where there is failure, there is personal growth.

3. Do not set expectations for myself that God hasn’t even set for me.

My friends, failing well involves remembering that God doesn’t set the bar for our behavior, as high as we set the bar for ourselves. In order to fail well, you have to meet failure knowing that God is not disappointed in you for not meeting your own standards – he could never be disappointed in you. Accepting the fact that you are human, and are therefore bound to make a ton of mistakes, is like drinking a hefty glass of peace of mind. What I mean is simply this: failure is inevitable because you are human and accepting this truth allows you to move toward forgiving yourself, enabling you to experience the personal growth that is linked to failure of any kind.

Now, remember that awful event that I had you think about at the beginning of this post? Think about it with this simple truth in mind:

Your inability to be “perfect” and mistake-free, pales in comparison to God’s love for you as an imperfect, mistake-making human being.

Let your mind chew on that.


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