Everyone hates to fail but what most people don’t realize is that failing is part of success. Anyone who has ever succeeded has failed many times. So, how do you overcome a spirit of failure that hangs over you like a dark cloud? I base my answer on Luke 5:1-11 as Jesus was calling potential disciples. When he was recruiting them, they had quit fishing for the day, and they had caught nothing. They felt like they failed, but failure does not have to have the last word in anybody’s life.
So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, 2 and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. 3 Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat.4 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” 6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. 7 So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” 9 For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” 11 So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.
So, for all of my fellow-failures out there…I offer these small steps to a life of a bigger catch!
1. Take From It, But Don’t Take All Of It.
How did you learn to ride a bike? The short answer: you fell off 100 times. Every time you make a mistake or fail, learn as much as you can from it so that you are better prepared next time. Bill Gates said “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”
Write down the top five things that you learned from your last mistake or failure. Then burn the list.
2. God Will Forgive You, Now You Must Forgive YOURSELF.
Now that you have learned something from your mistake, move on. Don’t dwell on your past. You can’t tell where you are going if you are looking backwards. Also, dwelling on your past failures will keep you in prison right where you are. Write down the top 5 things you want to try in the future. Then get a tattoo of them somewhere on the FRONT of your body so you can easily review them daily.
3. Trying Again Won’t Kill You.
Don’t let the fear from your last failure stop you from reaching your greatness, goal, dream, or potential. Just like learning to ride that bike, you didn’t fall once or twice and then give up. Napolean Hill said that “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed on an equal or greater benefit.” Take what you have learned and try it again now that you are better prepared. Only sky-diving without a parachute into a cactus patch is a sure killer. Anything else is gravy.
4. It Could Be Much Worse. MUCH WORSE!
If you don’t succeed, what will the outcome be? Is it something so terrible or is it something manageable? Often when we look at things in this perspective we realize it’s not as bad as we think and this alone helps mitigate some of the fear. Write out the absolutely worst case scenario your imagination can come up with. Ask yourself, can I handle this if it happens? If yes, move forward with it.
5. Tiny Victories Are A Big Deal.
If your fear is extreme or truly preventing you from moving forward or making those much needed changes in your life, don’t jump in full force, take it a bit slower and get your feet wet a little bit at a time. This sometimes eases you into an opportunity; depending on the situation this may not be possible, but if it is, it can help ease the transition. Write out all of the small steps it will take for you to achieve your next goal. A baby knows how to take small steps, because they are just starting out. So are you. It’s a new day, so get back up and live!
You are not your experiences, but you are your responses to those experiences.