May 20, 2018

How "Failure" Isn't Permanent

“Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” –Isaiah 43:18-19 (KJV)

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Some individuals see every mistake, especially big ones, as a permanent block. Others, like Olympic athletes, and the 16th U.S. President, Abraham Lincoln, see each blunder as an opportunity to learn and to begin again.


We learn this Israelite judge and strongman’s story in Judges 13-16. Delilah is the Philistine woman Samson loves. She tricks him into telling her the only way to drain his strength is to cut his hair. When the great judge is weakened, he is blinded and imprisoned by the Philistines.

Samson doesn’t accept defeat. When he is tied between two pillars in the temple of the Philistine god, Dagon, he prays for a temporary return of power. He is then able to push on the pillars and bring down the temple. This kills about 3,000 individuals, including him.

Mindset: the new Psychology of Success, by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.

This wonderful book explores two different attitudes: fixed mindsets and growth mindsets. People with fixed mindsets can't see beyond failure; it depresses them. Something either works from the beginning, or it doesn't. There is no middle ground. There are no second chances. Alternatively, people with growth mindsets see every failure as a learning/growth opportunity. They realize every huge achievement is a process; we have to be patient.

Life is all about patience. Endurance wins the prize in every area of life.

Darkest Hour

This Academy-Award winning 2017 war drama film stars Gary Oldham as Winston Churchill. The Prime Minister of England during World War 2 is a great example of the growth mindset.

The entire movie presents a clear message of refusing to accept defeat as final. However, there are two main takeaways from the movie:

Churchill had to fight opposition within his own government.
Many important officials wanted to negotiate with Hitler. They believed he would be reasonable and allow them some freedom and self-government. (Ummm. Hello?! Look at the track record throughout the rest of Europe!)
Churchill discovered the everyday people of England wanted to fight for their liberty, no matter what it cost. The English were unwilling to see the Nazi flag flying over Buckingham Palace under any circumstances. The statesman respected the desires of his fellow countrymen and refused to surrender.
The Prime Minister had to fight opposition outside of the government.
A weaker person would have surrendered to “the inevitable”. Churchill, on the other hand, refused to accept any setback as permanent. The Prime Minister’s most famous quotes below express the kind of determination that motivated the statesman in these harrowing conditions:
1. U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt refused to enter the war until Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7th, 1941.
2. London was being bombed.
3. The entire British fleet was boxed in at Dunkirk, France, surrounded by the Nazis. (The miracle of how that situation was resolved is the subject of another wonderful movie: Dunkirk.) 
  “If you’re going through Hell, keep going.”
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”
“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense." (excerpt from his well-known speech to the 1941 graduating class of Harrow School)

My Conclusion

Athletes aren’t the only ones who are able to regroup and revitalize themselves. You can take time outs and start over. Maybe you’ll even be allowed to take the game into overtime.

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Are you ready for the next part of the match?

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