I wanted to write a post on failure, and just how important of a gift it is…but the irony is that I feel like I have, in fact, failed as it has taken me an incredibly long time to write it. This topic is a bit of a debate within certain populations and people groups. This idea that a participation ribbon is what our kids need to feel validated, accomplished and become involved, in my opinion, is a mistake. Sure, more kids are spending more time then ever on devices instead of the filed or court, playing an active sport, but I also think the same can be said for adults. I don’t remember the last time I got a participation ribbon for going to the gym or having a good day at the office (do Starbucks stars count as ribbons…I get a reward for drinking a ridiculous amount of caffeine!)?!? It seems to me that this is where the strong sense of entitlement comes from. If there is no chance of failure in school or sports, how can an appreciation be birthed for the value of hard work, dedication and loyalty??
I think my next post will cover the dangers of seeking validation from social media, because that in itself deserves its own attention.
I’m going to take a slightly different approach to failure than most, to not enter into the debate above. I think we have been inundated with the concept that failure is a chance to learn from past mistakes and to appreciate when we succeed… I’ve lived this for the past decade or more. And although I have certainly learned a ton from my failures, and have an extra appreciate for when things go well because of that learning I did when I failed, I truly don’t think that’s all we can pull from the importance of failure. I think for me, the difficulty has been getting stuck in my failure. Allowing my failures to define me; feeling as though all I am is a product of my faults and failed attempts and brokeness.
In my years of experience as an entrepreneur, I have had the opportunity to learn from several failures and broken dreams. It has always been hard to learn from past failures, as many of those failures came from habitual and personality weaknesses or lack of education and resources. I wanted to find another way that might allow for some grace to be given to you in the midst of your failures. After all, we are human, we make mistakes, we fail, we fall and it is certainly important to get up, dust off and start again, because once we get what we are after, it tastes that much sweeter. However, this can be long, difficult and painful to process and can leave a bitter taste in your mouth…and this has been my experience until I recently thought to change perspective.
Failure as a gift of Freedom
What if we view failure as a gift? a gift of freedom…I’m a bit of a believer that our past is not meant to hold us hostage, but to shape and guide our future, and if I only see failure as a chance to learn, that failure remains a focal point and can also be used to hold me hostage and sabotage my ability to move forward and guide my path ahead. I get stuck, I lose my self esteem and it becomes a negative emotion that will control me and ultimately curse all motivation. But what if I saw my failure as a gift of freedom? What if I allowed myself the chance to let go of that failure and take the gift of freedom from the past. It happened, it’s done, I can move on and I’m free from the bondage it has on me?!? I obviously understand that there are consequences of failures that we must certainly face and we are not absolved of those and we can’t reject the responsibility of these consequences, whether financial, relational, etc… I suppose I’m simply suggesting a small change in perspective towards failure. That although we have our consequences, we are free to move ahead without the weight of the emotional and mental rampage that takes place when we dwell on the “what if”, and instead focus on the “what is next“.
I want to go one step further though and allow us to also see that failure is a chance to experience the freedom we can have in forgiveness. In my personal journey, I am having a hard time with this one. Forgiveness for self is not easy, it seems to me that forgiveness for others is easier and comes more naturally (maybe this is just me). However, when failure is a product of my own hands, especially as an entrepreneur, husband and father, there is a huge responsibility on my shoulders. The weight of my children’s future and my families happiness can hinge on one decision or choice. As I have struggled through some past choices and decisions that have tipped the scale in the wrong direction, causing many painful years, I have come to a place where I wrestle daily with blame, self hatred, shame, embarrassment, doubt and a multitude of other negative, self destructive feelings. So as I write this, I feel like I am writing a letter to myself, and hopefully others suffering with the pressure of failure. It is not easy and you are not alone, but maybe we can try to see what our failures can teach us, leave them in the past, forgiving yourself for those past mistakes, experiencing the consequences as a part of the journey that will ultimately lead to a freedom that can come from failure and forgiveness.
Here is my moment of honesty… I am not there yet. I still have not been able to forgive myself for mistakes I have made. Maybe this will take me a lifetime to do and I hope I can get there sooner then later. I guess when I figure out how to do this, I will write about it!! My wish is that you can take away that: there is hope that we can all experience freedom from our failures.
text 7058682616 – I would love to chat with anyone who needs it. We all have something we are dealing with, and maybe you need someone to chat with. I don’t have all the answers, but we are all walking through our own journey. Don’t go through it alone.
Until next time, be well…This is life from the Ground Up!