Failure isn’t fatal: How to change missing the mark into success

Our culture has such a weird obsession with failure. Most of us buy into the lie that once we fail in a particular area of our lives, it’s all over for us.

We fall off the wagon when it comes to what we eat. With one cookie crossing our lips, we decide that since we’ve already blown it — we might as well eat the entire package.

We mess up in the grocery store, buying more than we should. We decide we might as well buy a new pair of cute shoes, too.

The “what’s the point?” attitude is all too easy to accept. The majority of us guilt and shame our way into more poor choices, piling worry upon worry. In the end, we declare ourselves worthless or powerless over our own behaviors.

Some of the brightest and most successful people learned to adapt their failures into success. A poor grade in the grade book didn’t detour them from their dreams. A rejection letter or a lost job opportunity was seen as an unexpected opportunity to take a different path.

Don’t believe me? Consider author Margaret Mitchell whose “Gone With The Wind” was rejected a whopping 38 times before becoming published. Ask J.K. Rowling how many people passed on her Harry Potter series. Inventor Thomas Edison was fired from multiple jobs and made well over 1,000 attempts to produce the first working light bulb.

No one enjoys rejection or the feelings that come along with knowing you’ve blown it. So what can we do when we hit a dead end?

Ask for help

You probably won’t become “unstuck” without the wisdom or accountability of another individual. Who is the most successful person you know? Who is where you want to be? Who has mastered the task you’d like to accomplish? You need their help. The most troubling part of finding help is that often the voices that are the loudest aren’t usually the wisest.

Send an e-mail. Make a phone call. Set up a coffee date. You need some help.

Look for resources

No matter how alone you might feel in the midst of your failure, there are options and resources to help you find a new beginning. You don’t have to sign up for an expensive course, taking out thousands of dollars in student loans. You don’t need to hire a personal trainer. Begin your search at the local library.

Find books or free workshops that will guide you toward your personal best. Head to a local congregation to seek out counseling. Return to the drawing board and increase your knowledge and skill.

Adjust your attitude

I met a fair number of people who tell me, “It’s great that you got out of debt. But that’s not ever going to be possible for me.” In the end, I know they’re probably right.

If you don’t believe change is possible, it’s not. If you keep feeding your heart and mind statements such as “I’ll never” or “I can’t,” don’t be surprised when those prophecies come true in every area of your life. You don’t have to stare in the mirror and chant positive mantras, but you do have to believe in the possibility of change.

Find a friend

Community breeds success. When you have another individual to share your journey with, you’re more likely to stick to your objectives. Friends can make or break your personal habits and life choices.

I once heard author Craig Groeschel quip, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” The statement possesses a catchy ring to it but also resounds with truth.

You may have to choose some new friends who are headed in the same direction. You may need to let go of a couple who distract you from your goals.

Failure isn’t the end. Our biggest failure — racking up over $127,000 in debt — led to my life’s work. You might be surprised where your failures lead if you choose to move beyond them.