Putting Failure in Perspective

When I meet someone who is stuck in life I often discern that they are really stuck because they are afraid to fail.

Some ways that exhibits:

  • They hate their current lot in life (job, relationship status, living situation) but are afraid that if they make a move that may regret it and long for their current comfort.
  • They feel called to trust God in an area of their life but they want to wait for x, y, or z conditions to be right before they do anything.
  • They want to try something (new career, new relationship, new life) but think they aren’t qualified.

Here’s a secret. I’ve got all of the same insecurities. I’ve got all the same worries. I don’t want to look stupid or act any more foolish than anyone else.

But I’ve also learned this:

  • I’m not getting any closer to my dreams by sitting on my hands.
  • I’m not getting any more qualified by sitting on my hands.
  • I’ll never have a relationship with _____ if I don’t say hello.
  • If I don’t go for a chance to live somewhere else than it’ll never happen.
  • If I know God called me to do something, I don’t want to be like Jonah.
  • If I have friends who try to hold me back, I know they aren’t the type of friends I want to have.
  • I don’t want to sit on my porch swing in my 60s and tell my grandkids “coulda, woulda, shoulda” stories. I’d much rather tell them, “I tried it and sucked at it.

Here are some things I’ve learned about failure.

  • Failure is part of the process.
  • Failure can actually be fun.
  • Failure doesn’t make you a bad person.
  • Being a failure doesn’t make you a fool.
  • Failure is key to discovery.
  • Failure is a learning device.
  • Failure doesn’t limit your opportunities, it explodes them.

Fear is none of those things. Fear inhibits the process. It prevents fun. It makes you no fun to be around. It makes you feel foolish. It prevents discovery. It prevents learning. It limits your opportunities.

“The only thing worth fearing is fear itself” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in Ahwahnee, California.

5 comments

  1. Wonderful thoughts, Adam—thoughts I needed to hear. Appreciate you sharing.

    Your posts have been really great as of late. Way to go. And keep them coming.

    I’m trying to think of something to add, though not b/c your post is lacking. Only b/c I want to play along. So…how about this? We have to want to succeed more than we want to not fail. I’m picturing a scale that weights our desires. Success is on one side and fear of failure is on the other. Let’s let success be heavier!

    Too often our goals are avoiding failure when they should be achieving success.

    Again, thanks. Good stuff.

  2. Well, great. Now I’ve gotta take a risk on that decision I’ve been waffling about for this past week. The phrase “If God called me to do something, I don’t want to be like Jonah” hits home.

    Thanks for this, I had a moment of divine clarity reading this post.

  3. I’ve mentally returned to the thoughts in this post several times this morning. I came across this video from, of all places, FAIL blog and was reminded again of the topic of fearing failure. Here’s the video: http://bit.ly/bmc2XN — my response to the clip: “At least he wasn’t afraid to try.”

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