I was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, IL and never heard of gumbo until I moved to Texas. One year my mom decides to have a gumbo cook-off for Christmas and I think to myself, “Self, it’s just a bunch of meat in some gravy, how hard can it be?” After 10 tries at making my own roux (and failing) and ruining 4 bottles of store bought roux, I conceded….making gumbo was more than just putting meat in gravy. I had to call in the pros for reinforcement, so I called one of my college friends, her people were from the birthplace of gumbo, Louisiana, and her Aunt walked me through the process step by step. I had failed miserably, but it forced me to regroup, refocus, and rebuild. With her help I blew everyone away with “my secret” gumbo recipe.
I bring this up because it demonstrates one of less obvious markers for success…failure!! Now, I know someone out there is asking themselves, “What in the world is Chris talking about?!” However, failure, WHEN PUT IN ITS PROPER PLACE, helps to build the perseverance needed to climb the stepping-stones to success. Failure forces you to take time to regroup, refocus, and rebuild; a process often ignored due to the stinging after effects of failure. Most of us want to pretend the failure ever happened. Face it, failure sucks and it’s somewhat embarrassing. All of the emotions connected with failure make it a difficult topic to discuss and an even more difficult outcome to handle. Instead of rushing past our failures, we should take advantage of the opportunities they provide us. It provides a chance to regroup, refocus, and rebuild. Regrouping allows you to get your bearings and be sure you are still headed in the right direction. Refocusing allows you enhance your vision and outlook on the situation, almost forcing you to pay attention to the details. And rebuilding puts you back on track to your intended destination. When you employ these three steps, you will learn from your failures so you don’t make the same mistake twice. If you employ these three steps to your successes as well, greatness is right around the corner!
Failure also provides opportunity for some of the best teaching moments in the world. Until I became a parent I never understood why my mom would always try to talk to me after I lost a game or didn’t make the team. It wasn’t until, as president of the most successful organization on my campus, I had a horrible event, that I realized failure brings about a different level of self-awareness and consciousness. It brings you to a place where you are faced to deal with your limitations. When things are going according to plan, your org talks about how THEY run the yard and it’s easy to get comfortable in your success. When things go awry, your org is questioning whether YOU got complacent and if you ever really ran anything! It is simply a teaching moment. Failure is a time for evaluation and learning. In the Bible, it was in moments of failure that Christ was able to teach the 12 disciples more than they learned from witnessing miracles.
There is a funny thing about failure, if you remember when I first introduce the word, I said, “when put in its proper place” it’s a good thing. Another reason failure is a not so obvious marker for success is because you have to have the perseverance to keep putting failure in its proper place. It’s easy to stumble once and keep moving but to repeat and endure the process for as long as it takes, is a testament to your passion and dedication. When you don’t put failure in its proper place, it turns to fear, which has a crippling effect on an organization. Fear will blind the vision, cripple the will of the willing, poison the unity of brotherhood, and destroy any chances for success. Remember that when you fail, it is of the utmost importance that you put that crook in its place.
So the next time you bomb a test or your event doesn’t go exactly as planned, remember:
Failure forces you to Regroup, Refocus, and Rebuild
Failure Provides some of the best teaching moments possible
Failure is a GOOD thing when PUT IN ITS PROPER PLACE!!
Have you ever failed? How did you respond to your failure? how did your group respond? How did your failures shape your future leadership decisions?