This weekend has sent me seeking the lesson in yet another failure. I've often found I've learned more from my failures than from my successes--good thing too, since my failures greatly outnumber my successes. The key for me is to set my mind on learning from the failure as soon as possible, before I spend too much time dwelling on the failure itself. Dwelling on failure has no positive benefit. We all fail; we all make mistakes. The sooner we can learn from them, the better off we are in the long run. Dwelling on failures, beating ourselves up, and refusing to move on keep us frozen in place, and therefore, unable to live our lives. Some of the most successful and satisfied people in the world are those whose who have been through numerous mistakes, setbacks, and failures, but never for a moment stopped trying. People who keep trying will make mistakes, fail, and get right back up again. You have to keep trying.
One of the other big problems is fear of failure. A lot of people suffer from this. I am no different in this area. Over time, I've learned to take chances, even when I have been terrified of failing, but this is still something I have to work on frequently. Fear of failure is often worse than actual failure. To fail requires one to actually try, while fear of failure generally leaves one incapable of even trying. Don't let fear of failure prevent you from trying. Being able to try in the face of fear does not guarantee success; however, not trying at all guarantees you will not succeed. In order to succeed, some sort of action must be taken. I have yet to meet a millionaire who made his or her fortune doing absolutely nothing; even lottery winners have to go out and buy a ticket.
Honestly, for every success I have had in life there have literally been hundreds of failures. I wrote a book, but no one ever asks about the ten other drafts that flopped before they even had the chance to get off the ground. Before I got married, I went through all the ups and downs of dating like everyone else; I got shot down--a lot, went on dozens of horrible dates, and failed in a bunch of relationships. I've been fired from jobs that were pretty crappy to begin with, which makes them that much more embarrassing. Even in ministry, I still fail. Some groups, events, and ideas failed before they got started because of my fear of failure. Others just fall apart, but I don't stop trying as a result of my failures. If I decided to throw in the towel the first time an idea failed, I would have had to have given up a long time ago. That's no way to live your life. You want to live a full life? You have to put in the effort.
Whatever it is in life that you believe will lead you to wherever it is you want to be, I want you to at least try. Whatever it is that you dream about, are passionate about, and just feel like you are called to do, you need to work for it. There will be failures, but your failures in life do not define who you are. You live, you try, you fail, you learn, and you move forward. Above all else, do not let fear of failure prevent you from ever writing that book, song, or movie that you always dream about. Got an idea that could change the world? Share your idea with the world; don't sit on it worrying about what other people might think of you. Don't look back on life and regret all the would've, could've, should've thoughts and ideas that you never tried. Failure is not the worst thing in the world. Never trying is far worse than failure; I am more ashamed of any time where I never tried at all than I am of any failure in my life because those were often the times I could have done something truly good, but I let my own issues and insecurities get in the way.
Let me put it to you this way: buried in the ground of a cemetery are all the songs, books, movies, ideas, projects, and dreams that never came to fruition because people were too afraid to try. I have no doubt that we are all destined for greatness. Buried dreams, both literally and metaphorically, are never great. In order to really live life, we need to continue to strive to reach our dreams and goals. Leave the failures in the past where they belong. Learn from failure, but don't dwell on failure. Remember, the next great invention, book, song, ministry, idea hasn't even seen the light of day yet because you haven't shared it with the world. As for me, I'm off to my next failure because I know success is not far off. Chase your dreams because no one will chase them for you.