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Experiencing a "Fail:" What NOT to Do When Things Go Wrong

Neither my religion nor my education did much to prepare me for failure.

I figured if I was “gifted” to do something, I never would. Leadership, success, and walking by faith all seemed to guarantee that I wouldn’t, couldn’t, or shouldn’t fail.

  • “Prayer works.”

  • “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

  • “Everything is hard before it’s easy.”

  • “Don’t wish for it, work for it!”

And, of course, the famous Winston Churchill quote: "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts."

YET, most of us still DON’T want to fail and are surprised, even shocked, when we do fail—especially when we’ve done everything possible to prevent it!

Jeff and Mindy's Boston Experience

When Mindy and I moved to Boston in the early 1990s to start a church, it blew me out of the water when only a handful of people showed up for our services.

Some who joined our team backed out in the first few months. We hired staff and couldn’t figure out how to pay them. I felt embarrassed when I shared the numbers with our board.

In response, I experienced depression, couldn’t get out of bed in the morning, started to binge eat, and had “stress arguments” with family, friends, and colleagues.

I get the Michael Jordan stuff: "I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

But in the moment, it’s easy to become obsessed with and fatally frightened of failure.

Then what? How do you treat yourself when something you attempt, or even invest big in, doesn’t work out?

Here are three things NOT to do when you fail:

1. Don’t Place Blame Outside

When we “place blame,” we look for a cause of control that’s not in us. You’ve probably heard:

  • “It’s the economy.”

  • “Those clients don’t get it.”

  • “I wasn’t trained correctly.”

  • And of course, there’s the more recent, “My parents messed me up!”

2. Don’t Blame God/The World

Been there, done that. When you think, “If I were God, I would do this,” or “This world just stinks!” Simply put, the world has YET to work the way we thought it would and could if we ran it! Yes, tell God how you feel. But blaming and shaming God doesn’t really help.

3. Don’t Blame Yourself

I know, it’s tempting to think, “I just stink!” “We messed up!” Yet, self-blame (and self-shame!) is just as toxic as blaming others. It still says someone’s gotta take the fall, blame, and shame.

There’s another way. It’s called

“taking radical responsibility.” And I’ll share more on that later!

With you and for you!

Coach Jeff

Coaching Retreats are one of the most powerful methods to experience or at least initiate positive change. CHECK OUT THIS SUMMER AT WHISPER RANCH! (for individuals, couples, teams)

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