One of the most difficult experiences anyone can have is a personal failure. No one likes failure and no one wants to live in “failure mode”. However, I am sure you would agree that some of the most valuable lessons you and I have ever learned have come through the failures we have experienced.
Failures are painful. The great British writer, C.S. Lewis, once said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our infirmities but, shouts to us in our pain.” It is very true that when we experience deep pain, we usually get the message that is being communicated to us!
If we will begin to look at our failures as friends and receive them, rather than resist them, we will learn how to treasure each failure and the experience it is bringing into our life.
One of the greatest writers of the twentieth century was Ralph Waldo Emerson. I recently came across one of his quotes in which he captured this concept extremely well. He said, “Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All of life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better. What if they are a little coarse and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice? Up again; you shall never be so afraid of a tumble!”
That really is what life is all about. I do not particularly like this concept but I have learned to embrace it. The more I receive my failures and learn from them, the better off I become in every area of my life. When I live in denial or blame, there is very little personal growth. It neither helps me nor other people.
Once again, the reason this is so difficult is because it is painful. I do not choose to think of myself as a failure, but I have had many failures in my life. Someone once said that failure is an event, not a person. That captures the concept of treasuring failures because they become teachers that guide me on this path called Life.
I once was listening to a gifted older woman share about her life. She had a small whiteboard and was drawing some peaks and valleys to illustrate the journey of her life. At the bottom of the whiteboard there were many long, broad and rough valleys (representing daily life). At the top of the whiteboard there were only a few sharp peaks (representing the rare, incredible, exhilarating experiences of life). Then she did something I will never forget. She took the board from the easel and turned it upside down. Suddenly, there were many long and broad peaks at the top of the whiteboard (which had now become mountain tops) and only a few valleys down below. She explained that she had come to understand that the valleys (again, which were now the mountain tops) had actually occupied most of her life and were where the majority of her life had been spent. The “mountaintop experiences” (which were now down below in the valley) turned out to be the bonus times in her life. They were few and far between: the exception – not the rule.
I never will forget the visual that she gave us that day. I have come to see that she was right. The common, everyday valleys of life really are where I learn the most about myself, business, other people, my family and God. I have stopped living for the mountaintop experiences. When they come, that is great. But, I have also learned that the daily routines of life are great as well.
Failure has become a friend of mine because I see it as a great teacher. It is not meant to hurt me, but to help me. It is not personal. It is just a good teacher that is able to capture my attention very quickly.
Do not resist the failures you experience. Learn from them and let them help you become the person you were meant to be.
Tip: Treasure every failure!
Have a great week! God bless you!