Failure is something we all deal with, although we may not all admit it. Failure is a part of living out the decisions and actions of our life. We often learn by and through experience. Making mistakes is part of the journey. But how do we deal with failure, how do we confront our mistakes? Sixth grade football has been a great teacher.
In early November I sat in the stands and watched number 27 trot out onto the field. His normal position was slot receiver, but late in this game coach sent him in to play Safety. It was a position he had never played. I hoped he would remember what he had learned about the fundamentals of tackling. We were about to find out.
On the very fist play, with the ball on the 40 yard line, the running back sliced through the front line and lumbered over the linebacker, picking up a head of steam he sprinted down the sideline with only the safety between him and the end zone. Number 27 angled toward the sideline and wrapped up the running back, but the tackle was high and the running back to big and fast, he slid to the ground as the running back motored into the end zone for a touchdown.
Number 27 was my youngest son Sam.
When we got home, he and I sat on the bench on our front porch to talk about the game. At that moment we discussed four things you need to know about how to deal with failure:
1 Acknowledge it! Some people deal with a high level of insecurity, and therefore nothing is ever there fault. They put the blame on others, or on circumstance. But when we do this, we deceive ourselves, and we can’t grow through the trials of life. Growth starts when we acknowledge our failure.
2 Analyze what you did wrong. No need to get into condemnation, that’s not the point and it’s completely unproductive. Many people take on failure as a character trait. You are not a failure, although you may make mistakes. Looking at what went wrong provides a foundation for change.
3 Change something. Now that we can see what we did wrong, implement a corrective measure, even if it’s tiny! Small steps over a long period of time will produce stronger and longer lasting results than a single major change ever will.
4 Forget about it. It’s important to put your failures behind you. If you make it through the first three steps, but can’t put failure behind you, then you will simply collect skeletons of failure like artifacts from a shipwreck. To grow, one must be able to put mistakes in the past, forget about them, and focus on the growth that lies in front of you.
I was grateful for Sam’s missed tackle as it provided a great opportunity to grow and learn. But next time I’ll be he will choose to tackle legs.