Do you sometimes sigh when you hear all those wonderful success stories? I didn’t learn to ride a bike by watching my dad ride. I learned by getting on, having dad push me off, wobbling around, falling off, bruising my knee, scratching the paintwork, denting the mudguard. I only understood what dada said about not going too fast when I rode into a wall. Failing forward is taking the failures ‘on the chin’ learning to survive, evaluating what went wrong, being courageous and deciding to do better next time.
Failure is not the opposite of success; it’s actually an essential part of it.
Who made these remarks?
"I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.”
“I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.”
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
The first was author J.K. Rowling, the second Steve Jobs and the third, Michael Jordan.
Bill Gates was a Harvard dropout. He co-owned a business called Traf-O-Data, which was a true failure. He later sdid, “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”
Albert Einstein could not speak fluently until the age of nine. His rebellious nature led to expulsion from school, and he was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School. He later said, “Success is failure in progress.”
At some point in our lives, we are all tempted to believe we are failures. Yet the great achievers have one thing in common. In the face of adversity, shortcomings, and rejection, they hold onto self-belief and refuse to see themselves as failures. We need to remember that failure is an event, not a person.
Sir James Dyson was the first to invent a vacuum cleaner without a bag. The
invention took 15 years and 5,126 failed attempts to finally arrive at the groundbreaking invention. Dyson has since become a vocal advocate for embracing failure, explaining that it was the reason for his success. It’s through our failures that we learn to succeed.
The famous saying goes, “It does not matter how many times you fall, but how many times you get up!” The Proverb says, “for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity. (Proverbs 24:15)
In reading about the ‘heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11, I was struck by the fact thats only their victories were mentioned and not their failures. That is because God sees what we will become, not necessarily what we are.
In fact, a lot of people we read about in the Bible messed up. Abraham, the father of faith and of the Jewish people, lied about his wife twice. His son Isaac did the same thing. Sarah, Abraham’s wife, laughed at the promise of God and then denied that she laughed.
Jacob lied and connived. Noah got drunk. Samson was immoral. Gideon was fearful. Rahab was a prostitute. David had an affair and then had someone murdered to cover it up. Elijah was deeply depressed and didn’t want to live. And Jonah ran from God.
The disciples fell asleep when they should have been praying, and Simon Peter openly denied the Lord.
Then there was Moses, who killed a guy.
All of these heroes failed forward and were able to use their experiences in faith to learn how to serve God.
Failing forward is realizing that mistakes are temporary, momentary events and not a life-long sentence.
Failing forward is using failures as steppingstones to help you more forward across the streams of life.
Failing forward is a conscious choice to see beyond the failings. It is having faith in the One who can turn our failings into valuable life lessons, realizing that failures can move us into next season of growth and productivity. God is in the recycling business, able to turn the waste products in life into something useful, and indeed beautiful!
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
One of my financial failures was when I received quite a large bonus for my work. It was a lot of money. To this day, I don’t know where it went! Well, we spent it, of course, but on what? I don’t know. I experienced the Proverb (23:5);
“Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.”
The money just flew away. Failing forward, I learned that whenever I received a large tax refund or a bonus, to either save it, or designate a goal for the money. Then it will not ‘fly away!’
In this blog series we will look at Biblical stories of failure from a financial perspective and how this opens up opportunities to serve the Lord with our resources.
The first story will be about Nabal, a rich farmer who was called a fool and failed financially.