Failure. It’s an ugly word, isn’t it? Ever since we were in elementary school, getting a big fat red F was bad news bears. We want to avoid failure like the plague, but it seems inevitable that we will all face some form of it at a point in our lives, doesn’t it?
Why we fail
Last summer, a popular article was released from Success Magazine entitled The 7 Reasons Why We Fail, here were the subheadings:
- Lack of persistence
- Lack of conviction
- Dismissal of past mistakes
- Lack of discipline
- Poor Self-esteem
- Fatalistic attitude
They pretty much hit the nail on the head, no? I can easily say that, in hindsight, most of the reasons I’ve failed in the past could be summed up by that list above. However, I think that number 4 needs to be elaborated on a bit. Perhaps instead of dismissing past mistakes/failures, we should study them and learn from them. How can we use that failed attempt, or mistake to our advantage in the present and/or future? Maybe we don’t need to change what we are aiming for, just how we are aiming? Strategy is key in both business and life. Without a strategic Battle Plan, would a single historical war have ended in victory? Without a strategy, we are shooting aimlessly, and like my pastor says:
“He who aims at nothing, will surely hit it”
If you hit a tree with an axe a thousand times, in a thousand different places, then nothing will happen. But, if you hit that same tree a thousand times in the same spot, you will successfully bring it down.
Focus, hit the same mark repeatedly. What’s wrong with having 1,000 different projects you ask?
Spreading yourself too thin
When this revelation came to me, I immediately was convicted because I knew I’d be mostly talking to myself here. But, it’s something that needs to be said, and I know there is another mom (or human) who needs to hear this difficult truth too. Two things real quick… I’m a fan of illustrations, and also a terrible artist, so here’s a little something I drew up as an example of what I mean. For the sake of this illustration, please pretend you like Grape Jelly, thanks =)
Which cracker seems more appealing?
Here’s the way I look at this, if you’re involved in too many projects, you’re likely going to struggle. You’re spreading yourself too thin, like the illustrated cracker above, you’ll be good for nothing, exhausted, and more likely to fail at all the things you’re struggling to juggle (you also won’t be as delicious). It’s important that we focus our time and energies on things that are the most important first.
There’s a song by Jonny Diaz, a christian artist, called Breathe, and that song tends to come on at just the right moment for me, typically in the car (heyyyyy KLove) when we’re [yet again] rushing somewhere. One part goes: “Let your weary spirit rest, lay down what’s good and find what’s best, just breathe“. Isn’t that some great advice, friends? Let’s not get so caught up in being a Martha, too busy for our own (or anyone else’s) good, and focus on what really matters. Only then can we be our best version of ourselves, and prevent failure from exhaustion – or from being a “Jack of all trades, master of none” which is a fine skill to have, but if you’re trying to excel at something, you need to hone your skills and energies a bit more.
Personally, for me as a Christian, I can attest to the fact that failure hits a little deeper sometimes when we do something that we feel has let God down, or compromised our beliefs/values/morals as a believer. We can feel unworthy, undeserving and downright terrible. But the bible reminds us that “ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), so we are not alone. We will all struggle with things both in our walk with Christ and in our day to day lives, but we can find hope in Scripture: Philippians 4:13 tells us “I can do ALL things through Him who gives me strength”. Not a few things, not some things – not even most things, I can do ALL THINGS. So look up, get your chin up and don’t give up.
“You never fail until you stop trying.” -Albert Einstein.
Don’t Give Up | Failure isn’t Final
The very worst thing that we can do when we fail, is to give up and stop trying. A quote by Morihei Ueshiba (some random Japanese guy who did martial arts, according to Wiki) says “Failure is the key to success. Each mistake teaches us something.” Are you hearing this? We actually have to fail sometimes to succeed! We’ll never learn what works if we don’t first learn what doesn’t! You’ll want to learn from your failures if you want them to become stepping stones instead of stumbling blocks in your way.
The next time something you’re trying to do doesn’t work out, do some research on any of the great inventors in history. Better yet, talk to someone you personally know who is successful at what they do. Ask them what it took to get where they’re at. Find out if they were an overnight success, or after many failures and trials got to where they are now. Life is a journey not a destination, make a plan, buckle up and enjoy the ride!