Redefining Failure

I am leveraging Rick Warren’s Daily Hope blog for this beautiful perspective on redefining failure. It inspired me.

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” Proverbs 29:25 (NIV)

Satan’s favorite tool to diminish your faith is the fear of failure. But you cannot serve God and be constantly worried about what other people think. You have to move forward. Proverbs 29:25 says, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” (NIV)

So how do you get rid of the fear of failure?

One way is to redefine failure. What is failure? Failure is not failing to reach your goal. Failure is not having a goal. Failure is not failing to hit your target. Failure is not having a target. Failure is not falling down. Failure is refusing to get back up. You’re never a failure until you quit. So if you’re attempting something for the glory of God, that’s a good thing. Failure is not trying and not accomplishing anything. Failure is failing to try.

Another way to get rid of the fear of failure is to never compare yourself to anybody else. You’re always going to find somebody who’s doing a better job, and you get discouraged. And, you’re always going to find somebody who’s not doing as good a job as you are, and you become full of pride. Both of them will mess up your life. Discouragement and pride will keep you from serving God’s purpose for your life.

The Bible says in Galatians 6:4, “Each of you must examine your own actions. Then you can be proud of your own accomplishments without comparing yourself to others.” (GW)

Did you notice that the Bible says there is a legitimate pride? There’s a good kind of pride and there’s a bad kind of pride. The bad kind of pride is comparing: “I’m better than so and so!” The good kind of pride is, “God, I’m proud of what you’re doing in my family, my business, my life, my walk of faith.” That’s the good kind of pride.

God hasn’t called me to be the best business owner / coach / trainer / facilitator / leader in the world. God has called me to be the best business owner / coach / trainer / facilitator / leader I can possibly be given the gifts, talents, and experiences he gave me. When you get to Heaven, God isn’t going to say, “Why weren’t you more like so and so?” He’s going to say, “Why weren’t you who I made you to be?”

Let go of your fear of failure, because anything you’re attempting for God in faith is a good thing, regardless of the results.

Face-to-Face and No Excuses

Someone on my team had blown it. He had taken too long to complete some significant tasks, which put one of our clients in an awkward position. Since his attempts to apologize to the client seemed to fall on deaf ears, I realized I needed to step in to repair the damage. So I dialed our client’s number to apologize for our failure to serve him well.

Before the phone rang twice, however, I hung up.

Even though the damage seemed to be minor to me, it dawned on me that our client could easily see this as a major problem. Therefore, it called for a face-to-face conversation.

Therefore I called him to ask if I could take him to lunch to apologize personally for what had happened. His guarded response confirmed that this was no small matter to him. So I booked the flight.

When I walked into the restaurant the next day, I saw him sitting with another man who turned out to be his attorney. Thinking I might try to minimize the damage, he brought “the troops” to back his case.

My gut tightened up a bit, so I prayed that God would give me grace not to become defensive or competitive (two of my most natural reactions in a situation like this).

We exchanged pleasantries as we scanned the menu and placed our orders. Then after a moment of awkward silence, I moved into a “Seven-A Confession.”

I acknowledged our failure to serve him in a timely manner. Although I was tempted to point out how he had caused several major delays himself, God helped me to avoid making any excuses whatsoever.

Instead, I admitted our mistakes in detail and acknowledged how they had probably impacted the client, both emotionally and substantively. Finally, I offered a solution to get us back on track … plus a commitment to waive our entire fee if he was not completely satisfied with the outcome of the process.

He was stunned. His attorney showed the same surprise.

Once he collected his thoughts, he told me he had expected me to make excuses and downplay the seriousness of the delays. So they had actually spent an hour at their office that morning preparing a counterattack. My unqualified confession caught them totally off guard.

The mood at the table changed dramatically. The tension evaporated, bodies relaxed, smiles become more natural, and we all switched off “attorney mode.”

In response to my no-excuses apology, the client actually started making excuses for me (a perfect example of “The Golden Result”). He even pointed out that they had failed to give timely responses on two critical exchanges.

As tempting as it was to minimize our failure by agreeing with him, I said, “I appreciate that. But it’s actually beside the point. Our organization is committed to serving you with excellence regardless of others’ actions. We failed to do that, and I’m here to do whatever it takes to make things right with you.”

After a short, congenial tug-of-war as to who was most responsible for the delay, we both laughed out of pure relief. We were not going to be adversaries. We could relax and work together to find a solution that moved us in the direction we all wanted to go.

Face-to-face. No excuses.

It’s often the fastest way to turn a conflict into an opportunity to build a closer relationship.


Ken Sande is the founder of Peacemaker Ministries and Relational Wisdom 360 and the author of numerous books on biblical conflict resolution, including The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict.

Multiplying your Talents

From Matthew 25: 14-30 comes the parable from Jesus, of the Lord of the land who, before leaving on a journey, entrusts in three of his servants various amounts of talents. When he returned he asked for an accounting.

The first said, “Lord, I knew the importance of these talents that you entrusted with me, so I went out into the world, invested them, and I give you back more than I received,” and he was blessed.

The second servant said the same, of multiplying the talents he was given, and giving back more than he had received, and he was also blessed.

The third servant said, “Lord, I know how important your talents are to you, so I buried them in the ground to protect them.  I give you back what I received,” and he was cast out into the darkness.

Possibly our greatest responsibility is to look within ourselves, of the gifts we have been given, go out into the world, multiply our talents and, in the end, give back more than we received.

Imagine parents buying a gift for their child, but the child would rather watch television.  Most likely the parents would be disappointed, that the child did not even care to open the gift.  Or, if the child opened the gift, such as a book of great value, but then went out to play, rather than even read a few pages, would also disappoint the parents.

Imagine how God would feel if we never opened the gifts he gave us.  Or, if we opened them, but never accepted our responsibility to multiply our talents.

Each of us are motivated by two opposite needs.  One is to go out into the world and be productive by multiplying our talents, or be protective of what we have been given.

Why are so many people protective of their talents, rather than achieving those objectives which will develop their potential?

One reason is the fear of failure, particularly considering that most new businesses fail.

A second is rejection, of trying to develop customers when most prospective clients are going to say no to us.

A third is the anxiety that is usually experienced when, to succeed in our own business, we have to take on so many responsibilities.

                                      How can we enjoy failure, be amused by rejection and thrive on anxiety?

Successful people understand that failure can actually accelerate their success.  They imagine every possible way to achieve their objectives, knowing that each failure gives them insight, of what adjustments they need to make in order to increase the odds of succeeding.

They realize that success, by causing complacency, can be dangerous, while failure always has value.  They know failure is only an experience that was less than they expected that renews their humility, sharpens their objectivity and gets them one step closer to what they are trying to accomplish.

Second, they understand why they might take rejection personally, and how to react positively to negative feedback, whether from prospective or existing customers.

Some people, in an effort to gain trust and build ideal relationships are friendly, pleasant and sensitive, but for fear of rejection avoid negative feedback and never gain the results they desire.  Other people, in an effort to gain results, are aggressive, confident and decisive, but for fear of failing, become too aggressive, and damage relationships.

Successful entrepreneurs, by being aggressively sensitive, perseveringly pleasant and decisively friendly, develop the quality of relationships that assure their results.

Third, they know we are all vulnerable to depending on at least one of the ten negative addictions for coping with stress, and how to instead thrive on anxiety by using a combination of four positive addictions.  In this way they use anxiety as an added energy to exercise and improve their health.  They also use the stress to stimulate their creativity in business, of imaging all the ways to take their success to the next level.  Another way they relieve frustrations is by the quality time they spend with family, friends and associates.  Most of all, as an independent entrepreneur, they strengthen their self-reliance through spiritual solitude.

What do you believe are the benefits of failure?

In what way are you reacting to rejection that helps you build ideal relationships that assure your results?

Rather than depend on negative addictions for coping with stress, what combination of the four positive addictions are you using to thrive on anxiety so that, more than being successful, you are always enjoying the challenge of taking your success to the next level?

                                        May the spirit of the Lord be with you in multiplying your talents so that,

                                                             in the end, you give back more than you received.

Art Mortell

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