No one loves failing. In fact, it’s human nature to thrive on achievement, accomplishment, and success. Because of this bent, we often attempt to hide our imperfections and flaws, pretending we know what we’re doing before we actually do. The pressure to never make a mistake is real, and ingrained. 

But, I’ve never met a human that hasn’t messed up. We all dislike it, but we all do it. And the people I tend to like the best are the ones that seem amazingly ok with their mistakes.

Is there an up side to failing? I want to suggest two reasons why it can actually be awesome, and then give you two noteworthy tips on what to do when you’ve messed up.

1. Failure provides the data needed for future success. 

Mike Maddock from Forbes.com says, “Failure isn’t fatal; in fact it is actually required for innovation success.” There really is no such thing big success or top notch leadership without little “lessons” along the way. 

Every time you find out what doesn’t work, you get closer to discovering what does. Gathering information from the “this isn’t working” moments gives us wisdom, and helps shape our next approach - which is going to be that much more brilliant and full-proof than the last idea.

2. Failing means you’re taking risks.

One of the biggest risk-takers I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting is Bob Goff. In his book “Love Does,” he says, “I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.” 

People who accomplish great things for God’s Kingdom are people that take risks, and don’t mind failing. Let’s be a little more afraid of ineffectiveness and more grossed out by playing it safe, and a little less distressed by the possibility of screwing something up.

There’s a world to change, so we don’t have time to fear failure.

Where would we be without our mistakes?? Somewhere safe, boring, and ineffective, probably. There’s a world to change, so we don’t have time to fear failure. So, when (not if) you make a mistake, repurpose it and make it useful. It’s all about learning how to handle the common bumps in the road and use them to your advantage. 

Here are the two simple steps that will enable you to leverage hiccups and mishaps, and grow as a leader from them.

1. Regroup.

If you’ve done or tried something that didn’t work out, take some time alone with God to listen and process. Write down what you learned from the mistake, and all the new knowledge and insight you have now. Refuse to be ashamed or discouraged. 

Here are some examples of possible mess-ups we can learn from as worship leaders - and just for fun, I made them all things I’ve personally done and am learning from. :)

  • Low turn out at an event
  • Reacted poorly to a comment
  • Double booked my schedule
  • Forgot lyrics during worship
  • Apparel mishap on stage
  • Overspent my budget
  • Wrong decision on my team’s behalf
  • Put an inappropriate song on church campus playlist
  • Wrong song choice for worship
  • Certain volunteers feel discouraged
  • Lost an audio file we needed
  • Getting caught in traffic coming back for a service
  • Sarcastic joking with someone I barely knew who didn’t take it well…

You get the idea. I can definitely say I’ve gotten valuable and helpful feedback from all of these experiences, and conduct my life and leadership role better now because of these lessons.

2. Try again.

As you know, Steve Jobs invented numerous innovative tech products in his lifetime… including the NEXT computer, and the Newton device. Heard of them? Didn’t think so. Good thing he didn’t stop there, because there’s a good chance you’re reading this blog on an iPhone right now.

My point is this: Messing up means you tried something, and that you get to try again now with better odds. So when you fail, fail forward - and be happy that you’re heading in the right direction.

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