D.A. Carson once said, “There is a certain kind of maturity that can be attained only through the discipline of suffering.” Tony Robbins said it a bit differently with his famous quote, “When people succeed, they tend to party, but when people fail, they tend to ponder.”
Handling failure can be a major obstacle for some people. Why? Because of two reasons:
1. They see themselves as failures;
2. They focus on the failure and let it paralyze them.
As a result of these two things, too many people give up the fight for success before they ever get started. When they encounter difficult circumstances, they convince themselves that they will never make it and, as a result, they become self-fulfilling prophets of doom.
Others, however, seem to breeze through the problems in their lives and businesses and move on to become great successes. When they meet failure in an endeavor, be it in their personal or business lives, they don’t let it take them down for the count. Instead, they get up and keep moving toward their goals.
So…what separates those who persevere and ultimately succeed from those who fail?
Here are some reasons and some suggestions for how we can all triumph over failure and move onward to unusual levels of success:
1. Realize that, as Zig Ziglar said so well, “Failure is an event. Failure is not a person.” Nobody bats 1,000. In fact, the greatest baseball players in history became great by batting 300!! That means that they struck out 7 out of 10 times!! If you think that you are going to succeed all of the time, you are only setting yourself up for disappointment. The most successful people in the world, both personally and professionally, have become so by failing more than they have succeeded, at least in the early years.
2. Don’t focus on the failure, focus on moving forward and learning something. When failure strikes, many people get down on themselves and ask questions like, “How could I have let this happen? How could I have been so stupid?” These are the WRONG questions to ask. In the midst of failure, we need to look for understanding and solutions. Asking questions like, “What did I miss in this circumstance? What can I learn from this experience so that I will never make this mistake again?” are far more appropriate.
3. Be determined not to give up. Failure wins when you give up. Don’t let one event keep you from becoming all that God created you to be. Persevere through your problems — don’t let them run you over.
Carson was right — some kinds of maturity can be attained only through the discipline of suffering. Failure causes us to suffer, but we can become more mature and effective human beings if we are willing to submit to the discipline and learn the lessons that only failure can teach.