career · culture

3 reasons why failure is a good thing

The world makes us believe the equation that us failing = we are a failure.  The world tries to warp our minds into thinking that those who are successful don’t fail and they follow a path that gives them whatever they want.

I’ve observed that the perception the world has is the people at the top of the totem pole are either bred into money, been given everything on a silver platter, stumbled into luck, or graced with good genes.

However, when you really think about it, most of the time none of those things are true! Many stories CEO’s share about their pathways to success include how hard they had to work to get there; they knew there was a strong possibility of failure, but regardless they tried anyway.

What I have been finding lately is we as a nation are so terrified of failure, we refuse to work as hard as we can to make our biggest dreams a reality.  We sit back as those around us take the risky shots to get somewhere awesome, and we are left either jealous, depressed, or both.

So what are we waiting for? Here are three reasons that changed my mind about pursuing a dream I know I might fail at:

1)  I might end up regretting many moments or decisions in my life.

Growing up, my parents forced me to be realistic about my dreams and goals.  While this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, as my life progressed I stopped thinking outside the box, therefore impacting my creativity.  It wasn’t until I made a huge decision to move to Florida to pursue my dream job that I realized it’s really not as scary as you think to take a risk!

Although Florida didn’t work out the way I planned, I am more than thrilled that I took a step of faith and trusted in God to provide for me in a new town where I knew not a single person.  I spent the entirety of my engagement over a thousand miles away from my fiance and planned our wedding from that distance as well, but through it all, in the back of my head I knew I was living the life I always wanted.

Even when I discovered this “perfect-looking life” wasn’t for me, I knew I had made the right decision in sacrificing all I had for that risk. I would much rather move and have God’s strength over me than stay right where I was and regret for the rest of my life not trusting in Him to do something amazing.

2)  The thought of “I wonder what would have happened if…” could be stuck in my mind forever.

I’m not saying I’ve made perfect decisions.  For example, while I was looking for internship opportunities during my junior year in college, I was faced with choosing between two offers: one in Lake Erie, Ohio working for a Nuclear Engineering company, and one working under an Architect at a company in Dayton, Ohio.

I’ll be honest, I had to pray about this for weeks because I didn’t want to be so far from my family and my husband (boyfriend at the time) that I wouldn’t be able to see them for four months. Joe and I had just begun dating a few weeks prior and I had signed a lease at Ohio State with one of my best friends, so I didn’t want to let either one of them down! So, I chose the internship in Dayton.

Although it brought me to where I work today, I still have that “what if” voice in the back of my mind.  Often times it tortures me because I know how much I loved NE in school, and with that internship I could have had the career I wanted. However, I am still thankful for where the Lord has led me today. While I wouldn’t change it for the world, sometimes I wish I could have worked there as well.

3)  I will never TRULY know if it’s right for me until I just go for it.

Referencing back to my job in Florida, I had no idea if I was going to like it there.  It was on the more “technical” side of Electrical Engineering, focusing on circuitry, electronics packaging, and RF design. I wasn’t used to working in that concentration of my degree and had absolutely no experience doing it. Nonetheless, I wanted to try something new because I felt stuck at my internship upon graduation and knew I had nothing to lose.

Like I said before, even though it didn’t work out, now I know I wouldn’t have traded that experience for the world. I know now that that industry isn’t for me, but I respect and admire everyone who loves the work they do. I’ve learned that sometimes it takes making a mistake to realize what you thought you wanted in life really isn’t all it was cracked up to be.

I think when God puts an idea in our minds, He enjoys calling us to trust Him.  Sometimes He doesn’t give us every detail in between the start and finish lines because He knows He can use the journey to grow us.

This week, if you’re debating making a big decision, think about why you’re hesitating:  are you scared because you aren’t sure what will happen? Are you afraid of failure? Are you simply nervous about the unknown?

Here’s an example of what I’ve already been doing! My work has a costume contest every year and this time I decided to enter.  I was terrified that I wouldn’t win, so I wanted to come up with a super punny idea. I came up with something awesome, but my only dilemma was it required an immense amount of sewing, which is something I do not pride myself in; I tried and monstrously failed, but after ripping out all my work, my husband realized there was another solution and the costume turned out amazing (I was pumpkin pi)!

So let me let you in on a little secret:  I have learned more about myself and about my God in my times of failure than through any forms of success; so take that leap of faith! God is faithful, and He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.

“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”

~ Psalm 55:22 (NIV)