Failure Is Success

Yesterday afternoon we walked beside the sea… warm, windy… ideal conditions for…

Windsurfing… Experts were speeding across the water… Learners proceeded with more caution. Some fell in the water… but then got back on their board wiser and more determined.

Kite-flying… Dad launched the kite and handed the control line to his son. Son kept the kite in the air for a while, but then it crashed onto the beach. Dad rescued the kite and re-launched. Son kept the kite in the air a little longer this time…

In Katharine Hill’s book about good parenting, ‘A Mind Of Their Own’, there’s a chapter ‘It’s OK to fail’. Encouraging parents to prepare their children to deal with failure she quotes the American basketball star Michael Johnson:

‘I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career, I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six 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’s why I succeed.’

Re-reading the story of Jesus’ death…

Peter, promising Jesus loyalty, denying all knowledge of Jesus, failing… From that failure, despair and regret Peter gained a new, deeper strength and boldness…

Judas, betraying Jesus, leading to Jesus’ arrest and execution, failing… No wisdom and determination; Judas came to terms with failure by taking his life…

I like the Michael Jordan or Peter stories; I know people like them. Sadly, I know others, like Judas, who haven’t coped with failure.


…my experience of school-children coping with failure… friends’ failures… my private and public failures…

…Failure is success when …it helps me develop:

  • Self-knowledge – I know what I can’t do… perhaps ever, perhaps just today
  • Resilience – I learn to cope with failure… moving on stronger, wiser, more determined, considering ‘next time’.
  • Creativity – I see things from a different perspective… trying again in a different way
  • Empathy – My failure helps me to understand and appreciate the failure of others.

…Windsurfers, kite-flyers… Michael, Peter, Judas… friends… me.

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