How Do You Deal With Failures?
We all fail. It’s not a question of if but when and how big. I’m sure you’ve had your share of failures. How do you deal with them?
One way is denial. We see this a lot in public figures. Few admit their failures. They lie. They spin the facts. They don’t apologize unless public opinion forces them to.
But are they alone in this? We often act like, if we deny our failure often and loud enough, it will go away. Even when we finally admit, our apologies don’t end with “I’m sorry” but with “I’m sorry, but....”
Another way is self-condemnation. We can’t believe we failed. Our confidence is shattered. We are petrified by the enormous cost of our failure. So, we say to ourselves, “I’m a failure. I’m no good. I’m hopeless.” There is a strange (and toxic) form of comfort in this approach: if we are hopeless, we can stop trying and just be angry at the world. That’s why many choose this path and stay on it.
There is another way, known as “Growth Mindset.” It accepts that we are not perfect but we can grow. Every failure is a reminder of our imperfections, but it is also a challenge to grow. Failures don’t have to define us if we see how they are an integral part of our growth. No one learned to do anything valuable without repeated failures at the beginning. Failures also give us a more accurate assessment of our weaknesses and vulnerabilities so we will know what to work on.
A growth mindset can turn our failures into assets. But shouldn’t we pause and ask, “Growth toward what?” Not every form of growth is positive. As we get older, we “grow” more sophisticated in spinning the facts, compromising our principles, hiding our hypocrisy, etc. A criminal wants to “grow” in his ability to pull off a perfect crime with each arrest! Shouldn’t we want to grow the strength of our character?
But does character matter? Consider what’s going on in politics and business. Expediency and pragmatism rule, not honesty and integrity. We lament the sheer lack of decorum and integrity in public figures. But how much are we committed to being people of integrity?
Integrity can be defined as the consistency between one’s public and private personas. Are we the same people whether we are in a room full of people we want to impress or in our room all alone? It used to be that we wanted to elevate our private life to match the public persona we wanted to project. But things seem to have changed. Now, in the name of authenticity and through social media, we bring our private life out into the open, including all the skeletons in our closets. We cannot deny that this is a form of integrity. But this is not the integrity of virtue but of shamelessness. Something’s gone awry.
As we conclude, let me ask you what you consider to be the greatest failure in life. Failing a class? Dropping out of college? Not getting your dream job? Jesus said, “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul” (Mark 8:36)? We can lose our souls by lying and cheating for a small (or even large) gain. But that is not what Jesus is talking about. He is talking about doing your best in life and still being found falling short before the judgment seat of God, who judges not only our actions but also our motives and thoughts.
The Bible declares, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). All our accomplishments will amount to nothing if that is our verdict at the Final Judgment. No growth mind will help us when that final verdict is announced. Are you ready to meet your Maker and prove your innocence? We all have reasons to fear. But there is good news. Jesus, the Son of God, came and lived a perfect, sinless life and laid down His life for sinners. If you believe in what He did for you, God will forgive all your sins! No failure in this life will be able to destroy you. Indeed, they will help you to grow in virtue and integrity in the safety of God’s love!