So often we hear of failure as if it is a bad thing. It’s not!
Not giving life a “good fight” with the chance of failure, now that can lead to a purposeless life. Giving up won’t get you anywhere. Stepping out and taking risks are some of the greatest enhancers of personal success. Think about it: how much of your life would (or would not) be what it is if you HAD not failed at something?
“Is it not failure which has equipped humanity throughout its history to become stronger, greater, and healthier?” (Finding Hope: The 12 Keys to Healing Hardship, Hurt and Sorrow)
Failing is learning. Failing is embracing challenges. Failing is experiencing tough emotions so we can learn to manage them. And sometime, failure is the best thing.
Remember when you first tried to cook your first food for the family and it was burnt in every crevice with the smoke alarm still ringing in background? You’d failed. Yet, look at you now!
You learned hands-on skills.
You learned to laugh and survive.
You learned when to buy fast food and when not to!
Remember when your child first tried to walk, ride a bike, reach the gas pedal—and they failed? Well, look at them now!
They learned to try again.
They learned there is a risk—take precautions.
They learned it may be harder than it seemed.
Now, think about this…
Remember when you said yes when you should have said no? Maybe failing to set a limit is inclined to teach us also. Maybe now you say no a bit more often.
Remember when you felt failure was a bad thing? It can create a monster from our self-criticism. It can entice perfectionism that is unsustainable.
I have, and probably will continue to, fail at many things. I have had to get very familiar with the uncomfortable “sorry” I need to share with my kids when I am short and irritable. I have had a very dent in my vehicles and a few dents in my ego throughout life. I have forgot birthdays and missed weddings. I have wrongly spelled names and incorrectly said things to people I should have treated as family. I have failed.
BUT I AM NOT A FAILURE. And neither are you.
It is important to remember these 3 Keys to Failure:
1. Failing at something is a behavior NOT a defining character.
Don’t get lost in your previous mistakes. They do not belong in your current or future identity. YOU get to choose how to manage your emotions and behaviors. You are not destined to fail. Make this statement about yourself aloud and seek to hold the belief in yourself!
2. If we seek perfection, we are teaching others to do the same.
Do you put the standard that you hold for yourself on those around you? Are they capable of it? Are you? We have to teach our children, friends and society (and self?) the concepts of remorse, forgiveness, losing, resiliency, and so much more. Failure creates an opportunity to do that. Give yourself and each other the same grace and opportunity to learn.
3. The comeback from failure is an essential life skill.
A main motor for me is how life is tough—but so are we! We learn that through failure. Really, failure leads to success. The experience of failure gives us skills to successes. It teaches us to make it through hard times and challenges. Isn’t failure of some sort ultimately inevitable? Our comeback from it though—there is power!
Failure can teach us to seek our own version of change and freedom from our own false beliefs. We often have to become uncomfortable to discover we want to change it.
As a foster kid, a learning mommy, a busy wife, a broken worrier, I am thankful I have failed. Because, from failure, I have learned so much. I have lost so much. I have gained so much. I have learned to create a success all my own.
As we look back at the year that was and look ahead to a brand new year, I hope you take in this message for yourself in your life.
Amber Jewell is a licensed master social worker with over 15 years of experience working with youth and families in child protective services, education and mental health services. As an educator and an advocate for promoting change for and value within people, Amber works to inspire and motivate others to grasp their own form of hope. She is also a motivational speaker and has experience in the foster system. She is the author of Finding Hope: The 12 Keys To Healing Hardship, Hurt & Sorrow.