If You Don’t Succeed, Do You Really Fail?

Most of you who read my blog regularly know that I have really been pondering the lessons I learned from my dad since his death.  I’ve created lists of what I want to instill in my children, I’ve looked at who we are and the legacy we leave behind and I have dissected, piece by piece, the things that he taught me that I don’t want to ever forget.  I think in a way I feel like this is my way to keep him alive – to pass him on to my children.  Through the impact that his lessons had on me.  Because I want to make sure that I don’t ever forget….  That my children don’t ever forget…

Today as I was out walking I started to think about something he told me when I started my blog.  At that point, I really thought it would just be something my family would read – an outlet, so to speak, that would allow me to connect with those who didn’t live close to me.  I never imagined that it would evolve into what it is today.  But he did.  Just like in everything else in life, I remember him telling me…

This was not the first time that I had heard that lesson from him.  All of my life, he had ingrained in us that we must never give up.  Never accept less than the best – of ourselves and of others.  And there were many, many times when I thought I had failed.  But he just saw it differently.  He saw that failure as a second chance to succeed.

Take college for example.  I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I wasn’t a great student!  I know, shocker!  I hated class and I hated getting up early.  I pretty much hated everything about college except for the social life and freedom that it afforded me.  I bounced around from college to college for a few years and had no direction.  I was a failure.  But instead of giving up on me, he continued to give me chance after chance – knowing that I just need to find the right motivation to push me to try harder to be a success.

And then life changed drastically for me and I found myself thrown into an adult role long before I was ready.  What could have easily been considered a huge failure was looked at different by dad.  And at a time when he could have easily said, “OK, it’s up to you now.  You’re an adult, you figure it out.” he instead said…

Because that was how he looked at life.  No matter what the situation was, no matter how badly I had fallen on my face, no matter how irreparable things looked, he saw the chance to turn that failure into a success.

Now, yes, I do know that we live in a society where we are getting too far away from teaching children that there is a winner and a loser.  I know that we need to let our children know that they will not succeed at everything they attempt.  But I also think we need to let them know that failure is just a second chance for success.  That if they give something their all, even if they fail, they will either be redirected by that failure or learn from it and continue to chase the same dream.

This is a

that I want my children to learn.

That Failure and Success are not necessarily independent of each other.   That sometimes you MUST fail first in order to be able to succeed.  And that sometimes, some of the sweetest successes are born from the most devastating failures.

So how do I teach them this?  Through letting them see that my failures have led to some of the best things in my life.  That having someone who never let me give up and never gave up on me helped me to reach my goals.  That sometimes, all it takes is a little guidance to turn ashes into beauty.

What do you think?  Does failure really define you?  Or does it give you a second chance to succeed in ways you had never dreamed?


  1. Pat Miller says

    Most importantly, he lived this out – he didn’t just say it! The new phrase is: Falling Upward – taking our failures and allowing them to move us ahead. Second chances often lead to a better end than if we had “done it right” the first time.

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