Failure is a lesson to learn, and necessary for success

Failure is a lesson to learn, and necessary for success

“The road to success is paved with failures.” —Rashida Rowe

One of the things that concerns me about our society is we don’t allow for failure. If we fail, we view ourselves as a loser and not as someone who tried something that didn’t work out. When it comes to small children playing Little League, if there is no winner and everyone gets a trophy, I am fine with that. However, as we get older and enter the unforgiving environment known as adulthood, we need to know how to fail with grace. I don’t like anyone’s feelings getting hurt, but to be successful in life, we must play by life’s rules.

Not teaching our children how to fail is one of the greatest disservices I can think of. I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, but we must rethink what failure looks like. We look at some of the must influential people in history, most of them had a high view of failure. We think if we fail, we lose. Could it be that if we fail, we win in the end?

Look at the light bulb. It is here because Thomas Edison failed over a thousand times to get a filament to work. Should I put it in his own words: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

A cartoonist was fired from his job due to a lack of imagination, but he died as one of the greatest minds in cartoon history, Walt Disney. The woman who was kicked out of acting school because she was too shy, now everybody loves and knows as Lucille Ball. The man who was so bad when he sang at the Grand Ole Opry, they told him to go back to driving truck. That night Elvis Presley drove to the heartbreak hotel. Michael Jordan as a teenager was cut from the varsity basketball team and ended up as arguably the best player of all time.

Failure is there to give us a drive, deep down inside of us. It is not to condemn us, but to push us forward. People told me I should go into the ministry, and I also was told I have the heart of a pastor. For many years I pursued that line of work, with opportunities to preach few and far between. I looked at my cerebral palsy and asked God to show me what his purpose for my life was. Motivating others through writing was the only thing that came to mind. I am so glad I failed at being a pastor.

We tend to look at failure as something to define our life, but in reality it helps us to see what is not working. What do we need to change in order to get what we want out of life? We can’t be fantastic at everything; that is not the way God designed us. He designed us with a purpose in mind for each of us.

We should want to be good at everything but be great at one and glorify him in the process. What if today I quit writing and went to work as a truck driver? Well, that would be just downright dumb of me. I can drive, but I am not made to drive a truck for a living. I need to write. That is what God designed me for.

Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should do it. Failure is there to call our attention to what is not working for us so we can try a new approach or narrow down our choices. Maybe we just have to revisit it in a year or however long it takes. Failure can be your best friend or your worst enemy — you decide.

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