What do you do with your failures?

I really don’t want to write about failures; but, rather, how you react when you have experienced a failure in your life. I found this quote that kind of sets the tone for this post…

I’ve observed that if individuals who prevail in a high competitive environment have any one thing in common besides success, it is failure — and their ability to overcome it.
– Bill Walsh, college and NFL football coach

Failures are an inevitable part of life, unless you never try anything, which would make your life really boring. Some people spend so much time worrying or planning for failure that they actually DO very little. Others develop a fatalistic outlook on life that almost assures the failures that they are confident are about to happen to them.

We don’t have to be highly competitive people in sports or in business to better position ourselves to deal with failures – to overcome them. Overcoming them, by the way, may not always mean continuing to try to do the same thing over an over until you succeed.  Sometimes overcoming a failure means learning and accepting that doing the thing that you failed at is not possible and deciding to try something different or a different approach towards the same goal.

Many people spend a lot of time following a failure trying to find something or someone else to blame. That is basically a denial of personal responsibility for the failure or a way to refuse to accept that the failure happened. Some people retreat into a “poor me” response and try to find comfort in the thoughts that the whole world is somehow against their success. They make up conspiracy theories to explain their failures.

A key word in Walsh’s quote is “prevail”. One dictionary definition of the word prevail, when used as a verb isprove more powerful than opposing forces”.

How does one prevail and prove more powerful than whatever failure the opposing forces have caused? One can begin by not allowing the failure to extinguish hope. Then you can turn that failure into a learning experience that will help guide a future attempt at success. Instead of spending time asking who or what caused this failure, instead ask, “what can I learn from this and what can I do differently in the future to avoid another failure like this one”. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, turn your energy towards planning a better future attempt or perhaps even a different thing to attempt. Doing that requires two things – letting go of the past (the failure) and continued hope for the future.

I’ve posted here a few times about the intertwined impacts of faith and hope in our lives. Whether hope precedes faith or faith is the bedrock upon which hope is built is a debatable topic. I choose to believe that having faith in God allows us to have hope in the face of our trials and failures in life. It is in that moment of surrender to God with the prayer, “not my will but thy will be done”, that hope is rekindled. It is that surety that God is with us that allows us to prove more powerful than opposing forces – to prevail.

So, what do you with your failures? If you take them to God in prayer, you will prevail. After all we have been told in Romans 8:31 – “If God is with us, who can be against us?”

Remember, however, to pray for the right thing: not that God make the challenge facing you disappear (God doesn’t work like that); but, rather, that God be with you and give you the strength and perseverance to prevail.

That’s what you can do to overcome your failures.

One Response to What do you do with your failures?

  1. John Freed says:

    We all in one way or another…”All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Lif is such that we can recover from our failures. In the mind of the Christian, God blesses us with grace, the opportunity to start over again. A person who seeks perfection in life is “barking up the wrong tree.” The good life is the one that says, “I believe in a God of 2nd chances.”

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