Monday, October 17, 2011


For most of my life, I've been driven by the fear of failure. I created unrealistic expectations for myself and was terrified at the idea of falling short. I most motivated not by the opportunity to succeed but from the terror of failure. What a terrible thing, I used to think, for everyone to realize I was anything less than perfect? How ridiculous that sounds now. Failure is such a fundamental part of the human experience.

I read an op-ed in the Washington Post today that discussed the benefits of failure. The author pointed to Steve Jobs as a prime example. Before the MacBook and the iPhone became worldwide successes, Jobs bounced from couch to couch in an effort to make ends meet financially. At one point he was even fired from Apple, the company he co-founded. How humiliating.

It got me thinking about how many other influential figures have failed miserably. Abraham Lincoln's run to public offic began with a nervous breakdown and one election defeat after another. Reigning Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers began his college football career in junior college. He was invited to the NFL Draft festivities in Madison Square Garden only to sit alone in the waiting room hours after every other player had been drafted. Walt Disney had difficulty finding work as a newspaper artist and was even fired once because he "lacked imagination and had no good ideas."

The article (link below) I read discusses how the American obsession with success, and fear of failure, has trickled down to affect people of all ages. Yet, in reality, so much of the world's greatest successes were products of profound failure. Failure isn't something to be afraid of but to embrace. It's a lesson I'm learning ever so slowly.

- Joel

1 comment:

LadellThomason said...

You said it well, Joel. Even in the bible, we see failure. (David and Bathsheba, Joseph thrown into prison, etc.) I, like you, am gradually coming to grips with the benefits of failure. As Paul said regarding his thorn in the flesh, "I now take pleasure in my weaknesses,... For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Cor. 12:10