Failure… It’s All About Perspective

I was just talking to my son about failures.Thomas Alva Edison in his lab
Right now he feels like he’s failing at everything.
He doesn’t enjoy most of his school subjects {especially math}
because they aren’t ‘fun’ or ‘easy,’
so he hasn’t been interested in giving 100% to learn them…
thus he doesn’t get a perfect score.
Then he assumes he’s a failure because of the results.

He’s wrong.
And he’s not alone.

We all fall into this mindset from time to time.
My son is NOT a failure…
he simply hasn’t succeeded yet.

Edison is a great example of this.
He had the right perspective on his failures…
on hard work…
on perseverance.

“I have not failed; I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

He looked at his failures as chances to gain new data
or learn something he hadn’t considered or,
perhaps, just cross a possible solution off of his idea list.

“They [failures] taught me something that I didn’t know. They taught me what direction to move in.”

Failure, depending on perspective,
will either bring opportunity or despair.
Only one requires hard work and is worth the effort.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
“Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”

It’s all about perspective.

“Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.”
“We sometimes learn a lot from our failures if we have put into the effort the best thought and work we are capable of.”

I love how Edison had the right perspective.
I am thankful he did, too.
Think of all the amazing inventions that were created
because Edison had the correct perspective on his failure.

Mark and I try to pass this joy-filled, perseverance, correct perspective concept
to both our children.

However, some days are harder than others.

Like today.

My son assumes there isn’t a point to learning most of these subjects.
Again, he’s wrong…
although I surely understand where he’s coming from!

Only a part of our schooling is the actual memorizing of facts, dates and formulas…
the other half is character development: self-discipline; learning to work hard at something
even when we hate it…
in fact, learning to enjoy it;
perseverance when we feel like there is no end in sight;
obedience even if we don’t understand the ‘why’ behind the instructions given.

All of us have a choice when we approach any situation…
We can let our circumstances dictate how we think/feel
or we can choose to be joy-filled.

The latter does not come natural and requires God’s strength and perspective.

“If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.”

I attempted to use the game Mastermind as an illustration.Mastermind game
If you’ve ever played the game you know there is a long board with peg holes.
One player chooses a pattern of colors, not letting the other player see.
The other player, through a series of guesses, tries to use deductive logic to figure out the pattern.

No one gets it the first time around.

In fact, they give you almost 15 spaces on the board to try to figure it out.
But each time you try, if you’re paying attention, you will learn something.
Perhaps all you learn is that there isn’t a blue peg in spot number one.
Perhaps you’ll learn more.

But the point is… if you see each one of those tries as a failure, you totally missed the point of the game.

It’s all about perspective.

Now granted… in some people’s cases just trying won’t automatically equal success, but knowing my son like I do…
he can and will thrive and succeed at anything he chooses to.
And the fact that he doesn’t yet get that grieves my heart.

Even more so because he’s my clone (in a boy-version).
I totally remember being where he is.
Feeling what he’s feeling.
Wanting to give up because I don’t see the point of trying.
Being lazy instead of diligent when it’s hard or not fun.
Some days I’m still right there with him! Even at the age of 40.

This is why perspective is so critical.
HOW we see things dictates what we believe about… well… everything.
If I don’t choose to be joy-filled
and choose to be able to look beyond my circumstances,
my ‘right now’ pressures of life, or in my son’s case…
his daunting schoolwork syllabus…
I WILL, by default, be thrown hither and yon by the circumstances that swirl and rage around me.

My stresses, my to-do lists, my schedule, my responsibilities, my sagas…
all the things that weigh heavily on my heart and mind…
they will crush me and steal my joy.

And, in actuality, by not choosing to be joy-filled…
I am giving my joy away.

By choice.

This, of course, is easier said than done.
In my son’s case…
we’re just talking about schoolwork.

But what he learns about how to face unpleasant ‘little’ things
that feel huge will translate later into how to face horrific things,
like cancer, loss of a family member or job.

So that when those things come…
and they will…
we are not destroyed.

Our joy is not lost…
even in the midst of chaos and pain.

So where does that leave my precious son?
Well thankfully, after a lengthy, rather drama-filled, conversation…
He’s having his sister quiz him to make sure he’s really studied well for his two tests tomorrow.

He’s daily, sometimes minute-ly, having to make the choice that we need to do things,
walk through things that aren’t desirable to us…
to grow and get where God wants us to be.

He doesn’t always choose correctly.
But today he’s choosing joy
(via obedience, respect and a good attitude).

He’s choosing to work hard even though the pull
of rushing through his work carelessly so he’s ‘done’ and can go play
tugs on him with force equal to a hurricane.

He’s choosing not to let his desire to play become an idol,
but rather a goal to drive him to work harder,
smarter, more efficiently and effectively.

He’s choosing his perspective.

We all are choosing one or the other…
every day of our lives.
He’s choosing joy over circumstances.

So am I.

Which perspective are you choosing?

Comments

  1. LOVE this! I just read some of it to my son…I was going through a similar situation with him today as he was working on his math! thanks for sharing! 🙂

  2. So not looking forward to dealing with this when my daughters reach that age! Thank you for sharing your thoughts! It’s a great reminder to put it in perspective.

  3. Love this post. And it comes at a perfect time for me when I need the reminder…to choose my own perspective.

  4. Wayne Gretzky said “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

    In baseball, the BEST hitters are successful only 1 in 3 tries.

    Great perspective . . . he’ll do just fine!

  5. Perspective IS everything.. love this post =)