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.
You may not be 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”?
For most people, the reason we don’t is because of how 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. We feel it negatively defines us, rather than viewing it as a valuable learning experience.
When that happens we don’t see ourselves as having had an experience of failure.
Instead we take it personal. Something inside us shifts and we view 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 but I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon.
When things don’t go as planned, when further endeavors aren’t as readily achieved, and when storms hit, these “quick success” people aren’t able 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.
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.
To safeguard ourselves from this, our identity must be unshakably rooted in who God says we are.
Once that’s firmly established we have a secure, stable foundation that allows us to dare greatly.
We no longer view failure as something that dimishes us, so we’re free to experiment, explore, wrestle, becoming stronger and wiser with every attempt.
When you see yourself through the lens of God’s unchanging truth, rather than the experience of the moment, you’re frees 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)
SOMETHING TO PONDER:
What’s the lens you view failure through? If it’s negative, where did that assumption come from?
I’d love to chat with you about this subject in the Beautiful Life Virtual Cafe.