What if I Fail?
Last month I wrote about my fear of success. How, as much as it's pursued and coveted, most people (including myself) can still be blindsided and even capsized by it. So I asked myself, "What if I fail?" Like, literally, what would I do or how would I respond to a complete, major failure.
For most of us, we'd abandon ship at the first sign of failure, but once we're overboard we realize that we now have an entirely different set of troubles we have to swim through. In hindsight, had we stayed on the boat and dealt with the smaller issues we wouldn't be trying to navigate the even tougher waters.
What went wrong?
We all try our best to prepare for success, but many of us in our grand optimism forget that failure is inevitable and quite frankly encouraged.
I know that sounds terrible. That's because we always want the best possible, but knowing that in our lifetimes we're garunteed to fail— on the micro and macro level— an innumerable amount of times, why wouldn't we dedicate time to preparing ourselves for quick rebounds? This is why as much as we emphasize planning for success we should should have a failure plan.
I know there’s no one-size-fits all to this type of learning, but taking a lesson straight from God’s word I decided to share what’s worked for me in the past.
Not always and definitely not in a steady state, but I had to get real and ask I myself “What will I do if I fail?”
I get it. No righteous minded person wants to own up to a mistake. Failure has always been such a personal matter-- one I'd rarely share and, in the past, rarely even own up to. It was something I’d skip right over to get to the wins in my highlight reel.
In part, I believe some of us inadvertently believe that if we fail one of two things has happen: God has failed us or we’ve failed God. It’s only human that when we see faithful people falter or wain, questions start to pop in our heads as to if God can really keep people.
Then I got a renewed perspective reading through Luke 22:
“And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” -Luke 22:31-32 NKJV
Jesus was telling Simon, "Listen to me! You are going to fail, but your faith will not.” This is because if our faith is in God and we know He can never fail then it (and repentance) is our failsafe. And Jesus didn’t stop there! He reminded Peter that after he failed— as He so accurately foretold— when he came back to the truth, share his failures to help someone else!
One word that hit me hard was ‘when.’ Not if you come back to Me, but when.
God had so much confidence in Peter that even though He knew Peter would deny Him (tres tiempos), He also knew how much Peter loved and had faith in Him. He knows those who truly love Him will return to Him in spite of their failures.
So what’s the plan?
Shifting our mindset to know that we will fail many times in life, we should be just as proactive in developing a plan to ‘return to Him.’ So here’s some steps I’ve set in my own journey:
1. Acknowledge it... quickly.
This has been a struggle for me hands down. It takes me a while to really accept when I make a mistake— personally, spiritually or professionally.
I know I'm not alone in this either. We're naturally inclined to shift blame. Either to offset the discomfort of being wrong, to avoid being framed by our failures or just because we're proud and stubborn. (You don't have to say anything. I hear some silent 'amens').
Regardless, drawing out acknowledging mistakes and failures only causes more issues to churn. I've began working through how to accept mistakes and defeat quickly as to not derail the entire plan.
2. Find out the 'why' before the 'how.'
For me, after I'd finally acknowledge my flops, I'd bare down pretty hard on myself. I'd think "You knew better! How could you have made such a careless mistake?!" There are quite a few things wrong with these statement.
Rarely are major mistakes as "careless" as we believe. There’ve been times in my life where I messed up pretty badly and revisiting the what, why and how, I could mark each sidestep that lead to my mistakes.
I marked the small actions and remembered how disrupted my life became from them. Realizing the small shifts that take place when my life's not centered around Christ and the impact that it had on others, I focus more on what was missing (spiritually) from my life that caused things to derail.
3. Recognize that your failures may be an assignment.
It's normal to want to reach or influence others through our successes, but I'll be the first to admit there have been plenty of experiences I've been kept from by witnessing others mistakes. So what if I could keep someone else from the same headaches I've been through by sharing my failures? And, this may seem far fetched, but what if my purpose is, at times, to fail?
I know it seems strange, but when we say "success takes failures" we rarely think of it as our failures leading to the success of others. The truth is sometimes we fail in order for someone else to succeed. That God uses our failures to set those around us up for success.
So, what if you fail?
These were only three ways to revisit your failed attempts or circumstances as growth oppurtunities, but there are many other ways to bounce back from failure. If you're having trouble (like I did) with addressing failures take some time to build out your own failure plan template. Be honest with yourself and use it as a foundation for conquering those everyday challenges of your faith and humanity.
Oh, and SHARE what's been helpful for you in maneuvering successes and failures.