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Living is Learning to Fail to Succeed

Life has a funny way of reminding us of our humanity. In the anticipation of the text from that special someone, we feel hesitation, fear of the maybe not, and hope for the maybe so. In the moment of birth, we feel pride in what we have, protection in its preservation, and unexplained euphoria in the mystery of creation. At the moment of failure, we desire to be hidden, quenched with embarrassment, and despaired with coming disapproval and disappointment. And in death, sadness swells, reflection mounts, and sober realization of mortality sets in. Life simply reminds us what it means to be human.

Often times, however, the lulls of life rock us to sleep with the commonality of everyday living. The moments of our emotional peak remind us more certainly that we are human. The steadfast reality reaches in just when we forget about what it means to live and found ourselves in that stream of existence alongside of everyone else. It is at this point that a reminder sets in. This reminder, like a moment in my office just today, takes us back to a moment of potential greatness or failure. The reminder nudges us toward recognition once again of our humanity.

Without that subtle yet sometime brutal reminder, it would be easy for all of us to dismiss one another at the moment of absolute failure and to idolize during moments of unrelenting success. To this point, I want to address an often overlooked but stark reality for every single one of us. We have all had to learn to fail in order to succeed. At the very moment of our existence, failure would become a necessary teacher to success. In learning to walk, we all held on and stumbled forward. In learning to speak, we made incoherent sounds and even learned erroneous words to signify what we really wanted, such as milk in place of juice. In riding the bike, we all fell at some point. In dating, we have all made mistakes. That sentence alone needs no further explanation for if anyone were to suggest “not me” then they would immediately be considered a fool to formulate and believe such a thought.

Yet, this reality often does not transcend beyond inner-personal reflection. Often times, we identify failure in the actions of other people as cause for judgment on the quality of that person and do not consider that in that moment the failure is teaching success. Too quickly, we want to identify behavior as the definition of an individual. While it can suggest that something is occurring for that person, it is cannot be the definition of that individual. In fact, all of us have failed and thankfully received grace, reconciliation, and education to live better in community with one another.
Therefore, consider the actions of those around you, the ones who care for you, the ones you care for, and the ones who are part of your community in another way. In their moments of failure, are we quick to call strike 1, strike 2, and strike 3 you’re out? Are we there to judge who they are or to help them discover what happened with them to cause that failure? In understanding that cause, are we not then able to work towards success through continual practice and training?

This is similar to the life skills that empower us to everyday success. Without a learning disability, many of us may be able to accommodate expectations more quickly and “proper” responses to a number of “normal” daily-life scenarios. Often times, however, persons with learning disability, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or ADHD may not assimilate as readily, which can and does lead to judgment of the person not the learning experience, which in turn can lead to social isolation. However, proper understanding of failure’s role in life to enable success provides a foundation to welcome, understand, and assist in this education process.

Therefore, we should be patient with those among us who fail more than you would like and maybe more than you do. We should recognize that difference and failure is not a measuring stick for the depth and value of a person. Rather, we should realize that each one is different, bringing their own experience, skills, strengths, and weaknesses to the community, which in sum makes us whole. We should not be so quick to ostracize persons who can be easily ridiculed and judged for their actions and failings. Rather, we should embrace, understand, and come alongside them as we would a sister or brother as we are all part of one community. Even in that moment, when we are fail doing so, we can start to understand that living is learning to fail to succeed.

Posted by Life Development Institute

This has been a special needs program update from Life Development Institute. You may also click here to read the original article on the main program website.