I have never been a fan of the phrase, “Failure is not an option!” Or in the words of the wise and wrinkled puppet Yoda, “Do, or do not. There is no try.” With all due respect to little green men and Gene Kranz who was the flight director for the Apollo 11 moon landing, I happen to disagree. It’s like saying if you don’t succeed then it’s over and you might as well chuck it all. Failure has such a negative connotation but it is not the end of the story. I completely understand the sentiment that Gene Kranz was expressing about the moon landing. Failure would have meant certain death for those on the moon; but failing in their mission was a possibility. The reality is, all those brave men at mission control and on the moon could do with all of their training and expertise…was try.
The New Year is upon us and, no doubt, many are thinking about making resolutions or planning out what they want to do differently in the months ahead. I’m going to lose that 10, 20…50 pounds. I’m going to spend less time at work and more with my family. I’m going to be a better husband, dad, and friend. I’m going to lay off the Diet Coke and drink more water. Coffee has got to go! Exercise!! I’ll finally read the Bible through in 2019. Sunday will be a day of rest and not a honey-do catch up day. I will pray every day…maybe more than once. These are some of the things I’ve resolved in the past and I’m sure you would have your own to add to this list. Some of them I have been successful at and others…well, let’s just say I’m still trying.
Life is full of trying and in my view true success is not so much in achieving but in trying again after failing. We are all frail and fragile beings who have physical limitations and mental barriers that cannot be overcome by sheer will-power. I could not run a marathon next week, but with practice and training I probably could in a few months, (ok…maybe a few years). It took a few years of trying to read from Genesis through to Revelation in a year before I did it…(no matter how you look at it, Numbers and Leviticus are not the most captivating books). Success is never a guarantee…not for us, anyway. All we can do – in everything we do – is try.
I have always believed that there is a certain kind of success to be found even in failure; It is called learning. I have gotten very good at trying, and in the process learned a great deal about what I’ve done wrong and how to do things right the next time I try. I have learned where my abilities end and where the Good Lord’s begin. I have eventually found success in many things and learned that apart from him I can accomplish very little but through him all things are really possible. I would not have found success had I not failed first and then tried again with newfound wisdom…and then again…and again.
So, for those of you resolving to be or do something new or different in 2019, understand that you may (probably will) have setbacks and you may (probably will) have to get up and try again…probably more than once. Don’t give up! Breathe…figure out what you did wrong…pray and ask for strength and wisdom – then try again. And for those of you who just can’t let go of the “Do, or do not. There is no try” mantra – call it ‘practice’ instead if it helps…we know what you really mean. After all, practice does make perfect eventually!