Failing Forward

index“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” Henry Ford

How do you respond when you fail?

  • I feel paralyzed. I don’t know how to move forward.
  • I struggle to learn lessons to apply to the future.
  • I don’t consider anything a failure.

The way we each define failure differs, but let’s agree that it’s an unsuccessful attempt at something. You have failed at something in your lifetime. We all have. However, that doesn’t mean we’re failures. God created you, and He makes no mistakes. He knew how you would succeed and fail before you did. In fact, He likely doesn’t see success and failure with the same perspective as you do. He sees the big picture of your life and how the details fit together. He wants you to grow throughout life, and the learning process includes failures and the lessons we learn from them.

How you respond to failure impacts your life as well as those who look to you for leadership and example.

Failing is unavoidable, but you can choice in what direction to fall. You can fall backward, sitting in the messy mud puddle until you are miserable, or you can fall forward, perhaps stubbing a toe or scraping a knee but ready for the next steps of your journey.

In order to fail forward, you must…

Deal with disappointment. Failing forward doesn’t mean you ignore the frustration and pain. In order to move forward, you must learn from past experiences. Otherwise, you’ll repeat the same errors. Evaluate the factors contributing to failure, but only look back long enough to gather strength to move forward.

Prepare to plan. Apply what you learn. You don’t need to have everything in life alphabetized and color-coded, but a failure to prepare usually prepares you for failure. Look to the horizon and anticipate growth, but be intentional in the steps you’re taking toward your goals.

Celebrate. Broaden your focus beyond your failures. You will find whatever you look for most consistently. Pay attention to the progress you’re making. Celebrate when you’ve met a goal, fostered a relationship, or maneuvered through a difficult conflict. Your celebration doesn’t need to be over-the-top. Treat yourself to a favorite coffee drink, long walk, or soothing bubble bath.

Find contentment. God wants to be the center of our lives. Life on earth isn’t going to be perfect or easy. He knows it, but it seems to be a realization that takes more time for us to accept. When our gaze is intently on God, we can find contentment even in the chaos. We can find peace among the mayhem. Focus on God. He will give you what you need even when you’re not sure what it is.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

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