Habit 2: Give Yourself Permission to Fail

Habit of the Mind - Dr. Archibald D. Hart

Habit #2
Give Yourself Permission to Fail

My Personal Failure

“There is no failure in God’s Kingdom, only forced growth.”

Your permission to fail does not mean you do not care about succeeding. It just means you accept your failure as a learning experience. Examine it and move on.

“Success is nothing more than failure with the garbage brushed off.”

There are times when you come to the realization you are not going to succeed in the deal, project or relationship. It’s called the “moment of breaking” according to M. Scott Peck, author of “The Road Less Travelled”. The key to this realization is how do you respond or react? How do you recover from this “moment when all dependence on your own self-sufficiency is shattered. You stare at the stark reality that you can’t win all the time. Sometimes you simply lose.”

You must forgive yourself and move on.

Have I failed? Yes, many times. Do I consider myself a failure? No. I consider myself tenacious and a fighter. Regardless of the disappointments and rejections in my life, both personal and business, I just keep moving ahead. Do I ever get bogged down in grief and depression? Yes, I do, but my pity parties no longer devastate me. I allow myself to feel the loss and I adjust.

Everyone Feels Failure’s Arrows

“Sometimes God speaks loudest through our apparent failures.”

“Many successful people have built that success on mountains of a failure.”

“The way to accelerate your success is to double your failure rate.”

“We do not seek to fail, it just happens. When we fail, it just gives us a second chance to fail again (or not).”

Why does Failure Devastate Us?

In our country, we have cultivated the idol, “Success”.

“God is not in the success business but in the refining business.”

Otherwise, we would succeed in everything that we attempt. If you look closely at the successful men and women, every step they took to reach their level of success came with a failure or misstep. Each time we go through a new experience, it is for the purpose to grow and mature. Success is the fruit of these experiences.

Job 23:10 “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”

1 Peter 1:7 “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”

“God uses failure to refine us.”

God’s Purification Process

  1. Failure devastates us because it points out our imperfections.

I must confess, my biggest failures have come from failed relationships. Most of my life from the time of my childhood, I desperately desired to not only be loved but cherished. When I didn’t receive my measure of love, I ended my relationships. Since I’ve grown in my knowledge of what Godly love is, I understand no one can love and cherish me as much as God. He gave his only son so I might live eternally.

I now relate to people without setting the standards and expectations in our relationships too high. I have learned to have compassion and patience.

  1. Failure devastates us because we irrationally confuse FAILING with being a FAILURE.

“You are not a failure because you failed. You are a failure when you give up or give in.”

When Is Failure Not a Failure?

Last year when Pope Francis visited the United States, he spoke in New York. He made a statement which went viral, “Jesus’ Life Ended in Failure” was the headlines. I did a, “WHAT?” Upon researching further, my emotions were soothed. I understood where he was coming from.

As I began reading this section in Dr. Hart’s book, I smiled. Again the question of whether Jesus’ life end in failure on the cross.

“God,” Oswald Chamber is quoted, “called Jesus Christ to what seemed unmitigated disaster.” From a human standpoint, the life of Jesus was an absolute failure. But from God’s viewpoint, it was a tremendous triumph because it fulfilled his perfect plan for the world.” Success or failure is a matter of perspective.

My perspective: Just look at the fruit of His life; past and present. I’m looking even into the future.

Was My Failure a Failure?

As I reflect on my relationships, throughout my life with friends, family, dating and marriage, I now understand the internal obsession with needing to be loved and cherished has been redirected and redefined. The emotional satisfaction I receive from my clients fulfills those areas of need. My husband and family no longer have that responsibility “to complete me”. I recognize that only God has that ability and he is sending me people and projects which reflect how he has fulfilled their needs.

So my relationship failures have only shown me how not to interact within my relationships with others, and most importantly myself. My inner peace and joy are not only reflected in my smile, it also shows in my eyes and emanates from my heart. It is also reflected in the choices I make each and every day.

Have I failed at relationships? Yes, I have. Am I a failure? No, I am not.

“Failure is a disguise of God’s best plan for my life.”

Dr. Archibald D. Hart

Next: How the Ten Habits Fit Together: Habit 3: Keep Your Conscience Clear
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