The longer I live the more I see that our lives are filled with failures. Tony Dungy says it this way, “ I am often introduced today as one of only three people to win a Super Bowl as a player and as a head coach. What they don’t say is that there were twenty-seven straight seasons that ended in disappointment between those two Super Bowl wins”1 He goes on to say “Success is really a journey of persistence and perseverance in spite of failure”2
John Maxwell in his book Failing Forward makes the observation that it is not the idea of if we will fail, it is more the question when will we fail? Everyone will fail. The key is how we move on from our failure.
Tony Dungy also says, “To truly accomplish your goals, I think failure has to be viewed as part of the process. Thomas Edison said that he didn’t fail repeatedly, he merely found ten thousand ways not to make a light bulb.”3
We all are faced with failure, or the fear of it, especially if we are in a place of leadership. Leading will involve risk. Do our past failures lead us to say, “I never want to try that again,” and do use that mindset to discourage others? Or do we use our past failures as learning experiences in moving forward?
I recently talked to a man who was still living “on the edge” in his early 70’s. He is always trying new things, constantly pushing for new ways of doing things. Someone asked him one day, “Why do you care? Why are you taking another risk? When are you going to retire?” His response was, “If I am still breathing and have my mind to think clearly, then I better be pushing and moving forward, because that is how God created me. He did not create me to just sit but to move.” That was so challenging to me, because at the time I was faced with what I thought was another big step in faith, and I was really counting the risks of failure. I am not saying don’t count the risk (cost), because God will use that factor many times in direction setting; but that should not be the only gauge.
As leaders we must be willing to move into new areas and to challenge and encourage those around us to do the same. Let’s not allow past failures to determine our future.