Thursday, January 17, 2008

Failure Works Wonders

I don't know about you, but I really hate to lose. And, losing isn't always just a tally on a sheet of paper or lit up bulbs on a scoreboard. It's when I fail to meet my personal expectations in life.

This can be something as simple as a personal challenge like losing weight, or a debate over who sang an obscure song in the early 80's. I want to be successful, and I want to be right.

And, if you're like me, you spend several hours per week in meetings and conversations with co-workers and colleagues. Many of these interactions center around brainstorming ideas that will connect with people. For NorthStar Church, creative elements include graphics, catchy tag lines, song choices, and stories that can be told on video.

When these meetings are at their best, all of us in the room are firing out ideas. Occasionally, all of us are stumped and have brain freezes, and at other times an idea "clicks" immediately and all of us know the exact direction to take.

Admittedly, I am not the most creative person in the world. In fact, in a room of 12 people, I may not fall in the top 10 in creativity. But, on that rare occasion when I do have an idea to contribute, many times I am reluctant to mention it to the group. Why?


It's not my fear of them. It's my fear of rejection. My fear of failure. In my mind, I tell myself, "That's a horrible idea. They won't like it."

But, what I've got to do is realize that when I choose to keep my ideas to myself, we all lose. The value I can add to the group by sharing an idea - good or bad - outweighs the perceived value I have placed on avoiding rejection.

Sometimes it hurts to "put yourself out there" for people to scrutinize and judge. Sometimes that means failure - at least in our world's view. But, despite the discouragement caused by failure, there is a hidden positive found in it.

Thomas Edison once said, "I haven't failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

Mostly, failure is an attitude. And, quite honestly, it's something I really have to work on.

Here's the bottom line: you're guaranteed of failing by not trying at all.

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