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Success Begins With Failure

Have you ever experienced a failure so deep that you felt as though your life was over? I know I have.  Or have you ever felt as though you could not possibly pick up the pieces and go on, or ever face that person again, or ever show your face in that place again?  Maybe you haven't experienced that level of failure, but we all experience failure.

A while back, I accidently sent a very confidential e-mail, meant for one person, to an entire group of people.  I remember that sinking feeling when I realized what had happened just seconds after I hit the 'send' button.  I called support services and pleaded with them to figure out a way to retrieve that e-mail,  knowing full well it was highly unlikely.  It was a desperate attempt.  From there, I went to talk with one of my colleagues, and as I told her what had happened, I cried and cried. I felt awful. And due to the nature of the e-mail I knew that  I had really blown it. My career was over.  At that point, all I could do was pick up the pieces and try to make right whatever I could, ask for forgiveness of the intended recipient, and acknowledge before the entire group of people my failure.  My kids have words for this.

Epic Fail

It happens to all of us.
  •  Maybe the business you always dreamed of having couldn't stay solvent and one day you closed the doors for the last time
  • A marriage hits the rocks
  • The cause you gave heart and soul to ends up being nothing but one relational difficulty after another
  • You lose the career you worked so hard to obtain
  • The art you invested many hours into isn't well received
  • Or maybe you find yourself in the middle of someone or something else's failure
The natural tendency with failure is to quit.  We're done.  We won't love again, we won't try again, we won't open our heart again, we won't risk again, we won't put our neck out there again.  We are afraid. So we batton down the hatches and let life happen to us. And that is where the true failure lies.

Micheal Jordan, Wikipedia
I love Micheal Jordan's insightful perspective:
I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career.  I've lost almost 300 games.  26 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 is why I succeed.
Or, in the words of my favorite rock star: "There's no failure here sweetheart.  Only when you quit." (Miracle Drug, U2)

We step on the path to success when we get back up and are willing to try again, having learned from the failure what to do differently the next time. And then what?  Rinse and Repeat.

Often its in the multiple attempts that we begin to find ourselves in new territory, new discoveries about ourselves and others that lead us to the breakthrough we needed in order to see the result we desired. My parents used to say, "If at first you don't succeed, try and try again."  While that phrase is a bit tired and worn out, it still rings true. It's true because its in the trying and trying again that we gain valuable learnings and insight  if we choose to.  And those learnings can be the ticket to success- to finally see the fulfillment of our dreams and passions, to become the person we want to be, to accomplish the goal, whatever it might be.

Life is an uphill battle of 2 steps forward, 1 step back. Whatever mountain you are trying to climb, don't stop climbing.  Don't give up.  Keep moving forward in the direction of your dreams and sense of call.  It will be worth it.

By the way, in case you were wondering, I didn't lose my career, and life wasn't over after the e-mail incident.  I did learn some things in the process, ate a whole bunch of humble pie, and moved on.  I still send e-mails.


  1. Tracy, I am appreciating your blogs, heart and soul. Your words are beautifully crafted and transformative, images powerful and rich. You reflect me back to myself with an invitation to open and grow. This blog particularly so. I know personally the experience (more than once!)of having made deeply unconscious choices that did indeed mean my life as I knew it was over, hurting others and myself in the process: the Epic Fail. I'm daily grateful for grace and forgiveness...of myself and others. And the opportunity to keep on climbing and learning. Maybe next time I'm in Goshen we can meet at The Electric Brew for some percolating conversation! Thanks again for your commitment to write and the gift you give through it.

  2. Mary, I would enjoy a conversation with you very much! Yes, when you are in Goshen let's get some coffee, sit down and share life. Thank you, too, for your reflections here and the encouraging words you have spoken. What you wrote is deeply meaningful to me. And, yes, where would we be without grace and forgiveness?