Failing Forward

Author: Lexi Mitchell | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2023-24

“I didn’t fail 1000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1000 steps.” -Thomas A. Edison 

“It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get up.” -Vince Lombardi

“I think it’s important to have a good hard failure when you’re young. I learned a lot out of that. Because it makes you kind of aware of what can happen to you.” -Walt Disney

Mr. Rick Stafford gave the Living Education students an inspiring forum, starting by describing the lives of notable people who went through hardship. The people he described are among countless individuals who have failed at something, but turned their lives around for the better. They did not let their failures define them; rather, they persevered and used their struggles as learning opportunities.

Failure and success: what do those words mean?

When discussing failure, Mr. Stafford explained, it becomes imperative to understand exactly what failure is. A popular definition of the word is a lack of success. But in that case, what exactly is success? Is it wealth, a good career, a happy family, or materialistic goods? Or is it something else entirely? Simply put, success is whatever you define it as for yourself. Your success is not dependent on the opinions of others.

Not your parents.

Not your friends. 

Not society. 

Regardless of how we define success, as individuals called into God’s truth, it should always center around living God’s way of life and doing what God would be proud of.

Why doesn’t everyone succeed?

Life can be hard. There are almost infinite hurdles that we as humans can face that hinder our forward trajectory. Some reasons include:

  • Their environment
  • Health
  • Intellect
  • Economy
  • Their childhood
  • Who they married
  • Wrong career choice
  • Bad habits

Of course, many of these reasons are out of our control. But it is a lack of discipline that prevents us from overcoming our hurdles and doing the best we can with what we were given. If we can’t control our minds, it will inevitably control us. This lack of control leads to the very failure we are so afraid of. 

“If only…” is a common statement among people who suffer from many failures. If only I had been born into money, had more time, better health, or better luck.

Mr. Stafford informed the students of a harsh truth: These are all excuses. 

But thankfully, once we understand our excuses, we can learn to apply the concept that our thoughts become our reality. In other words, the things we blame become the things that actually slow us down.

Can’t never did anything.

Many successful people had failures, but worked through them.They analyzed their failures, learned how to overcome them, and became better because of them. 

In Hebrews 11 is a list of people who failed in some way. But at the exact same time, it is also a list of people who learned how to overcome their failures.

“Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing.” Matt 24:46

What characterizes a failure?

In considering these points, two main reasons for failure can be gleaned.

For one, failures have no real purpose in life. Another main reason is that someone can become afraid, and therefore don’t want to try to improve their situations, whatever it may be.

In addition, certain characteristics are found in people who can be described as “failures”.

  • Failures lack persistence. Rather, people who succeed have an abundance of tenacity and sticktoitiveness.
  • Failures lack conviction. Instead, we must recognize what we want and go for it.
  • Failures rationalize. They concoct reasons why they gave up and couldn’t do what they aimed for.
  • Failures dismiss past mistakes. But people who succeed learn from their mistakes instead.
  • Failures have a lack of self discipline. They lack self control, and give into their feelings.
  • Failures have poor self esteem and lack no self worth. They don’t do anything for themselves to be proud of. 
  • Finally, Failures have a fatalistic attitude. They don’t accept responsibility and blame others instead.

The strongest people are the ones who overcome. They weren’t in a good place to begin, but they got there eventually. 

Once we know our definition of success for ourselves, use God’s tools and knowledge to gain it. 

God knows what He’s talking about!

Always remember: we’re just children under God. We may fall, but we should use the guidance of our Father to bring us up and take us where we want to be.

There is really only one way to be a failure. That is to quit.
“Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward.” -John C. Maxwell

Lexi Mitchell is a first-year student in the Living Education-Charlotte Program. She is from Long Island, New York. At home, she worked as a lifeguard and a swim instructor. Currently, she assists in the Living Education department as a social media manager and as a producer of written content. She enjoys reading, cooking, exercising, and spending time with family.