Trust Me, Failure Is Good For Us!
Sometime ago I had a counseling client who told me she had never failed at anything. In fact, she was emphatic she had never been part of anything that failed either. Failure was not part of her vocabulary; nor of any aspect of her life it seemed. When I indicated my serious doubt about that, she became defensive and said that failure meant she was not perfect in some way. . . and that was simply not an option!
I knew the psychology behind her insistence that failure had never been something she entertained. And while I understood it, I recognized her insistence upon never having failed; nor never having been part of anything that failed, was in itself a failure. Failure to own experiences that had been less than perfect she refused to label accurately.
Thus she was stunned when I said, “Trust me, it’s okay to fail! Failure is good for us. In fact, it’s very good for us!”
I meant every syllable. Without failure, how would we know success? If we never missed the mark so to speak; how would we know when we had hit the mark perfectly?
“If At First You Don’t Succeed. . . Ouch!”
Failure is not fun. Just because it’s good for us to fall short doesn’t mean we enjoy doing so. In fact, the experience of falling flat on our faces can be very painful and leave an indelible mark on our souls for a very long time.
Just as proud flesh hurts like the devil; it eventually heals. However, the experience does leave a mark so we don’t quite forget how we got it.
When we take a healthy attitude toward the experience of failure, the pain fades into a lesson learned from which we grow and become more mature. From my experience with the pain of failure, the memory of that which brought it about is no longer painful and I have grown wiser for having ‘been there & done that’!
“Linda, You Failed to Succeed!”
Those were the words I heard when crossing an I-70 overpass years ago. I’ve never forgotten where I was or the words that flashed across my mind when I asked PAPA God about a mighty experience of failure that hurt like the dickens!
“You failed . . . to succeed!” At first I thought He was simply agreeing with me that I had failed miserably. But the more the words came, the more I realized that I was being told I had failed so that I could succeed. That in order to succeed, I had to fail. Or at least have the appearance of failure. In other words, what appeared to be utter failure on my part was not that at all; but my perception of the experience from a human viewpoint. While those around me would view it as failure, PAPA viewed it as a success in order to bring about His ultimate goal(s).
And after all, who was the most important Person to impress with the truth. . . others, me or PAPA God? The answer is as obvious today as it was then. Most importantly the experience about which I write today was about the growth and development of another person. A person very important to me . . . and to our PAPA God. My “failure” to succeed” was necessary to bring about the ‘successful’ growth and development of another. In other words, I was participating in a divine plan that accomplished the Will of God in another person’s life.
I don’t know how you view it, but that experience changed my perspective on the failure-success dichotomy for the rest of my life.
So Say More. . .
We fear failure for as many reasons as there are folks on the earth. Sometimes, it’s task master parents for whom the success of their children is viewed as a reflection on them as parents. They lay an impossible burden upon us for which the only possible way to deal is denial. The “I have never failed” routine.
For others, it’s what we think others will say about us. If we set out goals; announce them loud and clear, then fail to meet them; what will others say about us? More importantly, what will I tell myself about me?
From a spiritual standpoint, many Christian women in business or professional life believe that failure says something negative about their faith relationship with God. After all, doesn’t God expect perfection? Won’t He turn His back on me if I don’t rise to successfully meet every life challenge? I don’t know from whence comes such faulty theology, but I can assure you nothing is further from the truth. Remember the words He spoke to me crossing the interstate. . . “you failed. . . to succeed!”
“It Really Is Okay to Fail?”
Yes, of course, Not constantly; but from time to time. It’s not that we do or don’t fail; but how we deal with the failure that ultimately matters. Truth is, we are going to fail at something sometime in our lives. We are going to be part of something that fails as well. It may or may not be our fault – at least not entirely. But what is our fault is when we “fail” to deal with failure in a manner that helps us grow and become the woman we are designed & destined to be.
From my perspective, that’s the “consolation prize” of failure. The lessons learned from accepting we missed the mark and determining how to avoid same the next time around. Sometimes, the very “failed experiences” were never meant to be viewed as successes. They were designed to help us seek out answers to grow up as women of faith. And to help us become the successful Christian women in business and professional life He- and we-want us to be.
Don’t hide from failure. Wear your healed wounds proudly and remember those times when you failed to succeed so that success becomes part of your richly deserved future.
Linda S. Fitzgerald, M.S.Ed, CEO & Visionary Partner
A Women’s Place Network, Inc. dba
Affiliated Women International
Building a Community of Christian Business Women
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