Friday, May 27, 2016

You Can Learn More From Failure Than From Success

What is success?  If you try and define it, you might find that it's tougher to pin down that you first thought.  Is it making money?  Is it feeling fulfilled?  Is it making a difference in the lives of others?  Is it leaving a legacy?  Is it following a direction you believe is God-given?  The answer is that it's some kind of mixture of all these and much more.  But my point today is not to define success, but rather to ask an even better question. Why are we all chasing it so furiously?

It seems built into us that we want to chase success and run from failure.  But why?  What do we think waits for us with success? What do we fear so greatly if we fail?  These aren't just rhetorical questions.  Rather, I want you to ask yourself these questions and work to answer them.  Their answers will have deep implications for how you'll view both success and failure in your future.

Probably much like you, I've experienced both success and failure in my life.  I've been at points where I was well thought of, I've been at points where I was embarrassed to show my face.  I've been in seasons where I had savings in the bank and seasons where I cried alone in my car because I had no idea how I would provide for my family for the next week. I've been proud of the work I've done.  I've been embarrassed to be seen doing the work I had to do.  And through all theses seasons - and I'm sure there are more of both coming for me - I've learned many valuable lessons.  Let me share just one with you today.

You can learn more from failure than from success.  

Success teaches you:
  • This is easy.
  • The time to take risks is over.
  • Engage cruise control.  I've reached the top.  The journey is over.
Failure teaches you:
  • This is more difficult than I had planned for.
  • Next time I take a risk, perhaps it should be more calculated or executed more carefully.
  • I'm never going to arrive, but I can learn to enjoy the journey.

Although there are many keys to capitalizing on your failures, there is one that seems to stand out.  It's guarding your heart against bitterness.  I would go so far as to say if you allow yourself to get bitter about your failure, you truly have been beaten.  This is because bitterness says, 'It's their fault, not my responsibility.'  On the other hand, if you can choose optimism, even through defeat, you are primed to learn much more than you could ever learn through success.

So, am I saying success is a bad thing?  Absolutely not.  It's wonderful to aspire toward success - whatever that may mean to you.  I'm simply saying that failure is not fatal, and even more than that, some of your greatest opportunities for learning will come through your failure.  Fear failure less.  It could prove itself a valuable ally. 

*I am currently working on a book chronicling a particular season of my life that involved some success but many more failures.  In that season, God taught me numerous lessons about myself and about life.  My hope is that those lessons will be transferrable and inspiring to you.  My goal is to have this book ready for you to read in the first quarter of 2017.*

No comments: