Pom in Oz: Failing, making mistakes are just part and parcel of life

Derek GoforthMidwest Times
When we go outside of our comfort zone, we feel scared.
Camera IconWhen we go outside of our comfort zone, we feel scared. Credit: Rob Lewine/Getty Images/Tetra images RF

Have you ever been that scared of failing at an activity or challenge that you made a decision not to try it at all?

Or even has a fear of failing meant that you damaged your own efforts to avoid even a vague possibility of a larger failure? Are you guilty of self-sabotage?

Failure or even the possibility of failing isn’t an experience we would enjoy. After all we can fall far short of what we ought to and want to do. Failing in our marriages, in bringing up our children, in friendships, in our careers, in our church and social life — and often with devastating consequences. Little wonder then that fearing failure is a real and ever-present reality.

The fear of failing can be arresting — it can sometimes cause us to do nothing, and even resist moving in a forward direction. But when we allow fear to stop our progress, we’re likely to miss some great chances along the way. And that’s nothing short of a crying shame.

When we go outside of our comfort zone, we feel scared. That’s obviously pretty normal. However, we don’t have to stay immobilised.

I believe we often feel we have to please everyone. A preoccupation of worrying about what other people think of us. Trying to impress people or trying too much to please them. We fear being rejected, condemned or exposed.

It’s virtually impossible to live up to the expectations of others.

It’s virtually impossible to live up to the expectations of others.
Camera IconIt’s virtually impossible to live up to the expectations of others. Credit: Cecilie_Arcurs/Getty Images

Fear and pessimism is sadly part of our genetic build. Pessimism is fearing that whatever is hoped for will not happen. There is no confidence in the future. Pessimists look at challenges with a “glass-half-empty” mentality. They refuse to believe the best and eliminate positive expectations. This is a serious problem that comes from within the heart.

I think the key to overcoming failure is to recognise that it can be beneficial. We need to face our weaknesses and accept personal responsibility for our actions. After all, we can’t fix a problem we are not even willing to face.

But, in my humble opinion, by the grace of God, you can turn your failure into victory.

Most of us have dreams that we never fully realise. But of course that does not mean we have failed.

Sometimes we overlook our successes because we focus all our attention on what we cannot do. We see our victories as minor and our losses as major things to focus our attention on. But if you let failure discourage you, you will never accomplish what you might have if you had just kept on trying.

Some of us think we have failed, when in fact we simply have not recognised our limitations. At my school, (Geraldton Christian College) we teach our students that God has given you certain gifts and abilities with which to serve Him. You cannot do everything, but you can do something for God. Identify what you can do effectively, and concentrate your efforts on that. Stop worrying about what you cannot do.

I see this everyday as a maths teacher. Students scared to even raise a hand because they don’t want to get an answer wrong — they are desperate not to fail.

But I use every strategy I know to put these ideas to bed. I make deliberate mistakes. I cultivate an atmosphere of trust and zero judgment. Slowly and gradually the students realise that not only can they make mistakes, they can fail — it’s actually encouraged and nurtured.

Because every mistake, every failure means we can look back, analyse and figure out how to “fail better” the next time.

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