To fail is “to fall short of success or achievement in something expected, attempted, desired, or approved.” To succeed is to accomplish what is intended or attempted. We certainly enjoy success more than failure, but long-term successful people learn to like many of the failures they experience because they know, like babies, they must grow into walking in their potential.
What would happen if a baby determined its future from its past? What if they said, “I’ve never walked before, so I am not a walker. And when I tried to walk, it was a struggle, so this proves I do not have the gift of walking. Because if I had the gift of walking, it would not be so difficult to learn to walk.” This sounds ridiculous, but this is how I thought in many different areas of my life.
Those who succeed most also seem to fail most. Toddlers fall down much more, at first, than they take forward steps in their attempt to be able to walk. Even though this is true, they do not quit or create an identity belief from their apparent failure in walking. They understand they cannot get their identity from their past, they get it from their parents. “I am made in their image. I AM a walker, and I will walk.”
As we consider this, let’s laugh at some lies:
If you tried to speak in front of people, and it was very difficult for you, then it means you do have the gift of speaking. Ha ha.
If you tried to be a leader, and it did not go well, then it means you do not have the gift of leadership. Ha ha.
If you tried to walk in joy and hope but kept falling down into discouragement or depression, it means you do not have the gift or ability to walk in joy and hope. Ha ha
Let’s reject the lie that says, “If something is hard to do for us, then we can’t do it.” If we fall for this deception, we are determining our future from our past. This is something we cannot do if we are to be effective and fruitful.
The opposite of this lie and life-restricting mindset is this: I embrace failure as part of the process of learning to walk in higher levels of living. As I think about this, I remember a big “failure” of mine. In one of our books, we misspelled the word Foreword by spelling it FORWARD. It was at the beginning of the book in a large font. When we edited the book, we didn’t notice this. We only discovered this after ordering a significant number of copies, and then someone came up to me, pointed it out, and said, “I am so sorry.” Upon hearing this, I had a momentary, “Oh no!”, but I ultimately thought, “I am learning to walk in book writing, so I welcome mistakes like this as part of the process.” We were taking steps forward.
Why do successful people like to fail? It is because they see the manifestation of their flaws as evidence they are walking in greater things. After all, if a toddler falls down, it means they were standing (because you cannot fall unless you were standing).
Today you are breaking free from the perfectionistic mindset which does not embrace seeming failure as a natural part of growth. For more on this subject, please listen to my podcast here.
Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.