Failure is a Teacher

“When people fall down, do they not get up? When someone turns away, do they not return?” Jeremiah 8:4 (NIV)

Happy New Year! It is a new year and I am excited about the many new opportunities and experiences this year will bring. I have set several goals to accomplish this year and the first one is to obtain my securities license. I shared with you in my last blog that I was one point shy of passing the exam. I believe we learn from our failures. Failure is not a life sentence–it is an experience where we may have fallen a little short. In actuality, we do not know how many exams our doctors, nurses, attorneys, professors, or bankers failed before they became successful. Nor, do we know how many obstacles a married couple of  30 years had to go through before it became a happy successful partnership. Society tends to share successes, but tends to avoid sharing the difficulties and failures. I truly believe what God has for you–it is for you. If you did not pass the exam, receive the home loan, get the new position, or the relationship did not work out, it was not for you at this appointed time. In due season, it will come to fruition if you persevere. Romans 8:28 (NKJV) states, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God; to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Over the holiday, my niece and I traveled out of town. In between our girly chatter, we listened to Michelle Obama’s book, “Becoming,” on Audible. In the book, Michelle describes how she fastidiously studied and prepared for her bar exam. Several weeks after taking the exam, Michelle called home to ask her father to check the mail to see if her exam results from the Illinois State Bar Association had arrived–they had. She asked her father to open the envelope and read her the results. Her father informed her that she had failed. Michelle was crushed because she had never failed a test in her life. I have to admit, I felt much better about my failure after hearing of Michelle’s shortcoming. Just think, if Michelle Obama had given up after failing the bar on her first attempt, the trajectory of her life would have been drastically altered. She would not have been strategically placed at Sidley Austin Law Firm where she met Barack Obama who became our 44th President of the United States; in turn, we would not have experienced her as our First Lady.

What if Oprah Winfrey, Walt Disney, Michael Jordan, or Steve Jobs decided to quit after their failures. All of their contributions to this world would have been nonexistent. In an article titled, “15 Highly Successful People Who Failed On Their Way to Success,” Sebastian Kipman shares what may have been considered their epic failures.

  • Winfrey was fired from her first TV job as an anchor in Baltimore. During a Harvard commencement speech in 2013, Winfrey quoted, “There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.”
  • Disney’s former newspaper editor told him he lacked imagination  and had no good ideas. Disney quoted, “I think it’s important to have a good hard failure when you’re young because it makes you kind of aware of what can happen to you. Because, I’ve never had any fear in my whole life even when we’ve been near collapse and all of that. I’ve never been afraid.”
  • Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Jordan’s famous quote stated, “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions, I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”
  • Before founding Apple with Steve Wozniak, Jobs was a college dropout; was a fired tech executive, and an unsuccessful businessman. Jobs quoted, “Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.”

An article written by the Power of Positivity provides “10 Things to Learn from Failure:”

  1. Failure builds character. Failure teaches us more about ourselves and builds character better than success ever could.
  2. Failure creates opportunity. How many times have you failed at something only to discover another opportunity? Maybe it was a failed relationship that lead you to someone great. Maybe it was a job that didn’t suit you and led you to a better one.
  3. Failure is a great teacher. Failure has a way of showing what your strengths and weaknesses are while motivating you to correct them, in any area of your life–academics, play, relationships, etc.; often the driving force behind success.
  4. Failure instills courage. Most people are scared of failure–failure requires courage. Whether the failure experiences was anticipated or not, you’ll need to toughen up a bit to get through it.
  5. Failure teaches perseverance. When experiencing failure, its very easy to give up. It takes guts and determination to keep driving forward.
  6. Failure spawns creativity. Nothings spurs creativity like failure. Artists and creators know that if something doesn’t work out, they must tap into their vast reservoir of creative talent to create something truly unique.
  7. Failure requires motivation. The most successful people are simply the ones who didn’t give up. Finding the motivation to believe in yourself and press on is vital.
  8. Failure is acceptable. In the midst of failure, it is never a good feeling. Failure is acceptable–lack of effort is not.
  9. Failure encourages exploration. As Steve Jobs demonstrated, failure causes you to explore other avenues. When one things doesn’t work out, seek another.
  10. Failure teaches and strengthens resilience. Through the discomfort and uncertainty of failure, one will be better able to take on any of life’s challenges as they come.

During last year, something may not have gone as planned. In 2019, I come to tell you–get up, dust yourself off, and get back on that horse and try again. I have failed at relationships, exams, didn’t get the position at work, and at times failed as a parent; however, I will never stop trying. Abraham Lincoln once stated, “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.” So, let’s try, try, and try again. This is your year–let’s do great things!

As always, I would love to hear your comments and please share with a friend.


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4 thoughts on “Failure is a Teacher

  1. Thank you for reminding us to get up and try again! Yes, this a new year, new start, new beginnings but we can’t forget that we may have to try two, three or even four times before we get it right, pass an exam, or simply accomplish a goal that we have. I appreciate your sharing your personal experience about not passing the securities exam. I did not pass the VA state exam for my Reading Specialist endorsement the first time that I took it and reading this month’s blog reminded me that there was nothing wrong with me. I’m working on several things in my personal life and I will keep trying until I get it right. Thanks Cassandra!

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