To Fail or Not to Fail

Ellie 2 resizedA few weeks ago, we welcomed a new addition into our family: a little puppy whom we named Ellie. She is not quite as well-behaved as our other dog, and we saw clearly from the beginning that she was going to need some good training and firm leadership.

One night, soon after we got Ellie, my sister and I were talking about her. Specifically, my sister was discussing her own leadership problems when it came to the puppy. “I’m ok with training her when I’m alone, but if someone else is around, I don’t want to do it, because then they might criticize how I’m doing it,” she explained.

That statement reminded me of myself. I can be like that, too. I want so much to do everything right that I try to avoid even the possibility of doing something wrong. But if you avoid the possibility of doing something wrong, you usually are also avoiding the possibility of doing something right.

I once made up a little saying and posted it on my bunk bed where I could see it every day:

Don’t be so afraid of failure that you never give any opportunity for success.

I do not have that sign anymore. But it is still something that I need to be reminded of often. Maybe you do, too.

Since that night, my sister and I have learned a lot more about the training techniques. Because we know how to train, we must act on that knowledge. If we do not – if we hesitate for fear of messing up or being admonished – then perhaps we will not mess up the technique, but we will mess up the goal behind the technique. If we do not act, Ellie will grow up not respecting our authority. And if we do not act, we will definitely be reprimanded for letting Ellie get away with something bad. So we must act, even though we may make a mistake here and there. And if someone does criticize us, we need to listen to that criticism so that we can stop making mistakes and start doing what is right.

Some closing thoughts to chew on:

If you do not want to fail, then welcome the criticism that will tell you how to succeed.

If you are afraid to act because you do not want to fail, how do you know that you will fail, when you have not even tried to succeed yet?

And if you do fail, how do you know that you will continue to fail, when you have not even tried to learn from your mistakes yet?

And if you do not try, then you have failed to succeed.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Tim. 1:7 New Living Translation)