In Others’ Words: Not Afraid to Fail

Original quote Robinson 2014

I wish I’d learned sooner in life that it’s okay to be wrong.

Mistakes happen … and sometimes mistakes lead us right to what we’ve been looking for all along … or to something gloriously unexpected.

When we were younger, we had to learn a lot of things: how to tie our shoes, how to read a book, how to play the piano, how to fly a kite …

Life was all about learning something. And in the midst of all that learning, we made mistakes. Our shoelaces came undone. We stumbled over the simplest of words. Our fingers wouldn’t master the keys. And the kite wouldn’t fly, no matter how fast we ran.

Sometimes there were tears … but sometimes there was victory just in the trying. The satisfaction was found in the effort, not in the perfection.

The older I get, the less failure scares me. Probably because I’ve made many mistakes — and I’m still here. There have been small mistakes and big mistakes  — and so often the most profound lessons have been learned in the midst of realizing “I can’t.” At those moments I realize how much more I have to learn. I realize a little more of God’s grace. And I’ve learned how to ask, “If I can’t do this exactly right, what can I do?”

In Your Words: When has a mistake helped you be more creative? How has a mistake led you to someting better?

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  1. May 12, 2014, 7:00 am   /  Reply

    I think that the fear of failure is intimately tied to a fear of success, because success carries with it the expectation of even better performance…and that gets to feel like walking a tightrope.

    Certainly it seems to be true in relationships; we’re almost never the partners we are capable of being, because subconsciously we know that it will create expectations that we feel we can’t meet.

    It’s a lot easier to fail.

    Just as it’s easier to stand in the way of sinners, and sit in the seat of the scornful.

    • May 12, 2014, 3:37 pm   /  Reply

      I do agree that success breeds a fear that we must be more successful. But I don’t know if it’s easier to fail.
      I have to ponder that one for a bit …

  2. May 12, 2014, 7:59 am   /  Reply

    I make mistakes but still don’t like them. As I’m in a rush, I’ll tell you someone else’s. George Washington was hosting a formal dinner at the Whitehouse and his cook set the hot baked custard in the snow on the back step to cool Only she left it there longer than intended and ended up serving Frozen Custard, a great hit. She baked a great many custards after that, and froze them all 🙂
    Many great inventions result from mistakes like that, so I guess they should not be dreaded–just look at them to see what good thing God will bring out of it.

    • May 12, 2014, 3:38 pm   /  Reply

      Oh, Dee, I just love this story!
      And yes, it’s always good to look and see what good God can bring out of our mistakes — because he is always faithful to his promises.

  3. May 12, 2014, 8:00 am   /  Reply

    I really appreciate this post, Beth. I’ve definitely struggled with a fear of failure. Worried about what others would think.

    But it’s through failure that I learn and grow. If I’m willing to learn from my mistakes. I’ve learned from my mistakes the most, I think, in mothering. Mistakes I’ve made in how I have handled situations with the boys have taught me much about myself and about them. I get the chance to have a “do-over,” most of the time, and to choose more wisely in my mom-role the next time the situation comes up.

    You’ve given me good food for thought today. Thank you.

    • May 12, 2014, 3:39 pm   /  Reply

      I have often said I am who I am today because I’m a mom. My children are like human scraps of sandpaper scraping up against me, revealing both my strengths and my weaknesses.

  4. May 12, 2014, 8:34 am   /  Reply

    Thanks Beth!
    You are so right. We were constantly learning all the time as young people. Why did we stop? I remember going back to school as an adult. I was concerned about being a good example for my kids. I was, except I didn’t make all A’s. I didn’t have to be perfect and now I’m okay with that. They learned that Mom tried her hardest. What did I learn? I um, don’t really like accounting. Haha!

    • May 12, 2014, 3:40 pm   /  Reply

      A beautiful lesson for all: we don’t have to be perfect!!

  5. May 12, 2014, 9:14 am   /  Reply

    I can identify, Beth. Growing up we’re concerned about so many things: our weight, our clothes, what will our friends think? I wish I could tell all the high school and college students not to worry so much about failure and mistakes. What seems like a mountain at the time is merely a blip on the radar.

    While I still struggle some with fear and failure, as I’ve matured I no longer worry about the issues that once crippled me. In fact, like you suggested–it’s those mistakes that grow us in new ways. If we were never wrong, life might be perfect but how boring would that be? We don’t need cookie cutter folks. We need real life, flesh and blood people who enrich others by being themselves. Mistakes included! 🙂

    • May 12, 2014, 3:41 pm   /  Reply

      “We don’t need cookie cutter folks. We need real life, flesh and blood people who enrich others by being themselves. Mistakes included!”

      Amen to that, Cynthia!!

  6. Susan
    May 12, 2014, 9:14 am   /  Reply

    This has been one of the best life lessons, one I’m trying to pass on to my kids early. My oldest is a perfectionist…this is going to be one hard, long lesson to teach him:)

    • May 12, 2014, 3:42 pm   /  Reply

      … Susan:

      And maybe, just maybe, you won’t be the one to teach it to him. Not that you won’t try … but who knows how God will teach him the truth?

  7. May 12, 2014, 9:37 am   /  Reply

    This is so true, Beth! It is difficult sometimes to take risks, but they are part of the path to success. Encouraging reminder.

    • May 12, 2014, 3:42 pm   /  Reply

      Thanks, Michelle — and thanks for joining the conversation today!

  8. May 12, 2014, 9:47 am   /  Reply

    Beth, wonderful point. We will all make mistakes along the way. It’s the learning and growing that comes from those mistakes that count. God uses our mistakes for our good. It’s how He teaches us sometimes.

    I’m not sure I’m fully okay with making mistakes, but I am learning to laugh at myself a lot more when those goof-up moments come around. Laughter is good right?


    • May 12, 2014, 3:43 pm   /  Reply

      Laughter is good — as a matter of fact, it’s my favorite sound.
      And yes, when I can relax about a mistake, it’s definitely easier to handle.

  9. May 12, 2014, 10:15 am   /  Reply

    I hate looking stupid. But surely, I should be used to it by now?

    I’m not afraid of hard lessons, but I am afraid of unintentionally hurting people. Which is odd, coming from someone who shoots her mouth off at Olympic levels of skill and performance.

    I am learning to be less crippled by mistakes, because I’ve learned that one man’s mistake is always God’s hand at work. Somehow, He redeems what has gone bad. Whether or not we ever see that redemption is up to Him.

    • May 12, 2014, 3:44 pm   /  Reply

      I think that could become a prayer:
      Lord please redeem my mistakes and use them for good.

  10. May 12, 2014, 4:48 pm   /  Reply

    Some of my best pottery pieces were failures–but people loved them and bought them. I started calling them stress pieces. It is with failure that we learn. Success usually makes us complacent.

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