Recently finishing my doctorate and professional licensure exposed me to a multitude of setbacks and failures. I have since recovered from the academic chaos that was the last 3+ years, caught up on a lot of missed sleep, and now, upon reflection, am reminded of the lessons learned from each of my “failures”.
In failure we find our true character; we learn to persevere. In failure we find humility. In failure we learn to problem-solve and, in failure, we grow. It is hard for me as a perfectionist to write those sentences and even more difficult to believe them in my daily goings on. But failure, no matter how unpleasant the pill is to swallow, has proven to me to be the fire which brings fertile ground.
These 5 things happened when I failed:
1.) I had to let perfection go.
Dwelling in my current failure led to a selfish, bitter, and resentful heart. The daunting tasks set before us must be tamed into the possible by acknowledging that we are not perfect and therefore this project won’t be either. And that is ok.
2.) I had to ask for help and encouragement.
Seeking out mentors, friends, and family to care for me when I was in a difficult place deepened my relationships and gave me greater comfort in practicing vulnerability. We are not created to live in isolation—living like we are breeds contempt and loneliness.
3.) I had to try again—a different way.
Thomas Edison said,
Due to time constraints, external and internal pressures, I was challenged to re-think my strategy. The way that I had studied or written before was, if you listen to my pride, the best and only way. But there are many ways to complete a paper or pass a test and reality taught me that I need to be flexible (I hate that word) enough to choose the best strategy, even if it wasn’t what I’m used to. Perseverance is a rare trait, but it is desperately needed in situations such as this. This trait is instrumental in my successes and is one that I seek to cultivate in myself and those around me. What better way than to practice through failure?
4.) I had to be flexible (I still hate that word) and give myself grace.
My timeline for things is ALWAYS unrealistic in the worst way. Life happens. Priorities change. Rather than allow one deadline to rule over my life, I sought a balance and allowed myself to enjoy my people, my hobbies, and my job. This balance drove me to greater success and perspective. I had to tell myself things like, “this deadline is not the end of the world,” and “there is more to life than this one thing”. We can be our greatest critics. Yet, in times of need, grace must counteract such criticism, or it could lead to emotional paralysis; which leads me to my last point…
5.) I had to rest!
In my overworked state I ignored my self-care and the Biblical practice of Sabbath. My constant studying and writing, though well-intentioned, was instead used as a perpetual scapegoat to avoid people, activities – life! I neglected the “balance” that I implore my clients to seek (and ironically also wrote my dissertation on). Working on something when you’re exhausted leads to lower quality ‘exhausted’ work, and continues the trend downward. Only once I stepped away to rest could I come back renewed and refreshed. Rest is essential to perseverance, flexibility, experimentation, and encouragement.
These lessons from inevitable failure supply the opportunity for growth. Don’t let them pass you by. Beginning each day refreshed yields the opportunity to learn from new failure and the refining of character. Biblically, we are reminded, “…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope”. My personal conclusion is that these “failures” were, in fact, the most valuable part of my education—formal or otherwise.
I am hopeful that all the April showers we’ve had will truly bring beautiful May flowers! As the school year ends for so many, and summer begins to gear up, remember to take some time to enjoy the beauty surrounding you and appreciate the special people in your life. We want to express our thanks to some of our Peace Partners in this month’s “Thank You Notes”:
- Thank you, Lee’s Summit Physicians Group, for partnering with us to help the children and families in your community. We are excited to work together to make a difference!
- Thank you, Kevin & Kara Anderson, for being a part of our mission. We are grateful for your gift!
If you are interested in finding out how you can become a Peace Partner don’t miss the chance to get involved. There are many ways to give and every gift, small or large, makes a difference. Please click on the link below or contact our Director of Development, Amy Henderson at 816-399-0530 or: firstname.lastname@example.org.