Dr. Harold J. Sala
Guidelines For Living
Charles Schultz, the creator of the comic strip “Peanuts” had a grasp of human nature such as do few people. Who can’t identify with the series of cartoons where Lucy is trying to console Charlie Brown? She says, “Remember, Charlie Brown, you learn more from your defeats than you do from your victories.” And Charlie Brown says, “That makes me the smartest man in the world!”
Strange, is it not, how some do learn from their mistakes, and others never seem to grasp the lessons of their failures? Some find themselves on the floor, knocked down by circumstances over which they had no control, and they crawl into a corner and whimper, complaining about the way they became victims, how unfair life was to them, and how they would have succeeded if only something had not happened.
Others find themselves knocked down, and while they are down learn how to rise to new heights, something which would never have happened if they had not suffered misfortune.
Take, for example, William Levine. His store was robbed four times in one month. Angry about the abuse, Levine bought a bullet proof vest for protection. Soon other merchants began asking, “Where did you get that? I want one too.” Levine sensed that there was a greater demand for personal protection than for hamburger and pork chops, so he gave up his butcher shop and began a body armor business, which has been far more successful than his butcher shop ever was.
Here’s the question? How do you bring order out of chaos, meaning out of confusion, and spiritual gain out of defeat? Simply put, why do some learn their lessons and other never gain from failure but seemed doomed to fail time after time?
Those who learn from failure have several things in common.
Quality #1: They accept responsibility for their failure. Excuses are not part of their vocabulary. Instead of blaming others, coming up with fabricated excuses, they say, “It was my fault!”
Quality #2: They analyze the causes of their failure and strive to correct the flaws. Henry Ford put no reverse gear in his first automobile. When others began to surpass his engineering, he changed things, and quickly.
Quality #3: They have an unflagging spirit of determination to succeed. Thomas Alva Edison tried over 10,000 experiments, hoping to produce what we now know as an electric light, by passing electrical current through some substance which would produce illumination. A friend said, “Why don’t you quit! You’re tried over 10,000 times and failed.” He retorted that he had found 10,000 ways that would not work, and he would yet find one way that would work. He did: the incandescent bulb.
Quality #4: They learn dependence upon God for what they lack. None could better illustrate that truth than Chuck Colson, once a confidant to a US president, who became a convicted felon. He later wrote, “The real legacy of my life was my biggest failure–that I was an ex-convict. My greatest humiliation–being sent to prison–was the beginning of God’s greatest use of my life; He chose the one experience in which I could not glory for His glory”
Want to turn your greatest failure into an ultimate triumph? Read the fine print about the failures of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob along with David and Samson in the Old Testament; about Peter, Ananias and Sapphira and a host of others. Some learned from their failure and others were doomed to repeat them. You can learn from the mistakes of others. God honors the man who acknowledges Him in the time of failure, and gives grace to overcome. You can learn that failures become the stepping-stones to reaching your goals.