Failure is an infection. Once you let it settle in to who you are, it starts to spread to every part of what you do.
A “can’t do” mentality never stays where it started. It might begin with being cut from the team, but if it isn’t caught in time, it can seep into not even bothering to study for finals. Maybe it starts with missing out on one job or promotion, but it can soon have you wondering what’s the point of even putting in any more applications. It might begin with one rejection letter, but it can end with you shelving all of your good ideas indefinitely.
We all fail. But the key is to sequester the infection. You have to keep it limited to your actions, so it doesn’t seep into your attitude. If you want to stay healthy enough to keep moving forward, you have to quarantine your spirit from the disease of defeat.
As long as failing remains what you do and never becomes who you are, success will always be within reach.
God’s love has always been strong enough to separate who we are from what we do. As we say, He hates the sin, but loves the sinner. He knows that we’re more than our mistakes. That we’re greater than our guilt. Our worst deeds have never diminished the value that we hold in our Creator’s eyes. He still paid full price despite our spiritual depreciation! And how He sees us teaches us how we need to see ourselves.
When you mess up or come short, stop internalizing it. Quit calling yourself names. Stop beating yourself down. Realize that you don’t have to return to that dark cave of self-deprecation and spiritual defeat every time you do what every imperfect human being eventually does sooner or later—fail.
Instead, learn to see failure for what it is: an integral part of the process. A necessary step on the journey to success. As strange as it sounds, you need it.
Maybe you need failure to develop humility and compassion.
Some of us step into the arena with an inflated sense of self. Maybe you’ve been gassed all the way up, either by well-intentioned family and friends, or maybe even by your own inner monologue. Before you can reach your full potential, that bubble needs bursting! And sometimes we need to fall just to feel what it’s like down there and gain some empathy for the people we’ve been stepping over all this time.
Maybe you need failure to refine your process and improve your work ethic.
At a certain point prematurely, you’ll think you’ve arrived. We’ve all been there. You’ll figure you’ve got it all figured out. You’ll be content in your ability to coast to the finish line and claim your trophy. Sometimes failure is the needed wake-up call to get back to work. It exposes the flaws in your game and reveals where there’s still room to grow. It challenges you with the choice of whether or not good enough is good enough, and it puts your true character under the microscope.
Maybe you just need failure to grow a thicker layer of skin.
You may have a big vision and some lofty aspirations for your life. You can’t always see it when you first set out, but some of your goals, once you start to accomplish them, will put a target on your back. Envious people will be gunning for you. Criticism will be more frequent and more intense. The bar will heighten and the room for error will shrink. Some people you thought were your friends…won’t be anymore. And so the process of failing is there to toughen you up for the tougher times ahead. To strengthen you for the struggles that lie down the path you’ve picked.
So however it goes today, show up again tomorrow. Whatever happened to humble you, be sure to learn from the lessons you learned about yourself. And whenever you strike out, leave that failure on the field where it belongs.
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