Failing Forward


If you hope to succeed, learn everything you can from your failures.

"Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).

Back in the 1970's, Tom Watson was the up and coming golfer on the PGA Tour. But time after time, when Tom led a tournament coming into the last round, he would choke, bogey a few holes, and finish in the middle of the pack. Soon, the media began calling him a "choker." That kind of criticism only increases the pressure and the tendency to choke.

In an interview with Guy Yocom for Golf Digest, Watson said, "Everybody has choked. In the 1974 U.S. Open, I kept hitting the ball right to right. My nerves wouldn't allow me to adjust. That's what choking is—being so nervous you can't find a swing or a putting stroke you can trust."

How did Watson overcome his tendency to choke? "Byron gave me the best cure for it," Watson recalled, referring to Byron Nelson, the legendary golf pro of the 1930s and '40s. "[Byron said], 'Walk slowly, talk slowly, deliberately do everything more slowly than you normally do. It has a way of settling you down."* That advice helped Tom Watson overcome his nervousness. He went on to win many tournaments, including five British Opens.

Everybody fails. It's part of the process that leads us to maturity and success. Most successful entrepreneurs have been through a number of failures in life, but they usually don't think of their failures as defeats. They think of them as lessons.

My failures have served to help many people who are also experiencing failure in their lives. God will always have a redeeming value in our failures if we let Him reveal His life through them.

If you hope to succeed, learn everything you can from your failures.

*Os Hillman, Upside of Adversity, Regal Books, Ventura, CA p. 195, 2006

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