Failure Is A Better Friend Than Quick Success

We fear failure only because we assume it diminishes us.

Although you may not recognize the name Rowland H. Macy, you probably readily recognize the Macy’s Parade, and Macy’s Department Stores.   I’ll bet you weren’t aware that Mr. Macy failed at seven business ventures, including four retail stores, one of which was the original Macy’s Department Store before finally becoming what we would refer to as “successful”.

To him, what others perceived as “failure” he perceived as a valuable experience that provided wisdom he couldn’t have gained by any other means.  It trained and positioned him for innovation, leading to the success he ultimately – and inevitably, achieved.

Ask yourself, “Would I stand back up and try again after the fourth “failure”, or even the second “failure”?   If not, why?

For most people, the reason we don’t is because of the way we define and perceive the experience of failure.  We fear failure and avoid it at any cost.   If the dreaded “failure” happens, we see it as something to be ashamed of, something that negatively defines us, rather than viewing it as a valuable learning experience.

seeing ourselves as having walked through an experience of failure,
to seeing ourselves as a failure.

It’s a tragic and debilitating shift because it cripples us and keeps us in bondage to fear.   As a result, we become more invested in avoiding further pain than we are in reaching our dreams.

Over the years as I’ve coached smart, talented individuals with enormous potential, I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon…

Many times, those who experience relatively quick, “easy” success
right out of the gate typically lack staying power.

When things don’t go as planned, when further endeavors aren’t as readily achieved, when storms hit, they are unable to bounce back, so they crash and burn, then hang their head and tip toe away into the shadows to lick their wounds, refusing to try again.

However, those who “fail”, struggle, try again, struggle some more, evaluate, and take another calculated go at it, are the ones who build their strength.  They learn to perceive differently, think differently, and respond differently.  And that my friends, makes all the difference.   Their success is no longer a matter of “if”, it’s a matter of when…because it will happen.

When we take experiences of failure into our identity as a scorecard on who we are as a person, we automatically view our potential and our future through that lens.  The natural outcome of this shift is that we start playing it safe in a self-protective manner, and by design, remain mired in mediocrity.

What’s worse, we’ll even start to self-sabotage because we now expect to fail.

We always act in a manner congruent with what we believe about ourselves.

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We always act in a manner congruent with what we believe about ourselves.

To safeguard ourselves from this, our identity must be unshakably rooted in who God says we are.  Once that is firmly established we have a secure, stable foundation that allows us to dare greatly, to experiment, to explore, to wrestle, and become stronger and wiser with every attempt.

A willingness to embrace failure as an ally is the gateway to extraordinary success in multiple dimensions of life.    When you see yourself through the lens of God’s truth, rather than the perspective of the experience of the moment, it frees you to be trained by failure without feeling diminished as a person by the experience.

The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him;   though he may stumble, he will not fall,  for the Lord upholds him with his hand Ps 37:23-24 (NIV)

In the comments below, share what goal or dream you’d pursue wholeheartedly if you changed your perspective of what failure does to and for you.

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