If you want to teach a kid a life skill, teach him reality. Give him a picture of what the world will throw his way. Even the rich and famous have their share of heartache and loss. People go broke. People get sick. Loved ones die. There are setbacks, cutbacks, rollbacks, buyouts, layoffs, bankruptcies. Is it fair to reward a kid for everything he does until he’s eighteen, filling his room with trophies regardless of how he performs, and then find him shocked the first time he fails a course or loses a girlfriend or gets fired from a job? – Mike Matheny, Manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, in The Matheny Manifesto
The scene from the movie Apollo 13 drips with drama as leaders at NASA try to figure out how to get the ill-fated crew safely back to earth. One of the team leaders says emphatically, “Failure is not an option!” That is very true when it comes to dealing with human lives and their safety. I’m not sure that it is a good motto for life though.
Why do we want to raise our kids as if they are cocooned in a giant layer of bubble wrap?
Why do we employers want to protect our employees from their inexperience?
Why do we attempt to skirt reality?
We NEED struggles
We learn things in the down times that we could not learn any other way. Whether it is darkness or drought there comes a point when life is no longer easy. Every person struggles with problems. It is in those times our character is revealed.
Someone asked President John F. Kennedy how he became a war hero. His response: “It was quite easy. Somebody sunk my boat!”
As much as we’d like to avoid them and wish them away, we need the struggles and problems in our lives. We need times of wrestling in the darkness.
We have all kinds of struggles that we wrestle with:
- Financial struggles, when we wonder how we are going to make ends meet.
- Emotional struggles with anger, depression, discouragement or self-doubt.
- Relational struggles where we just can’t get the important people in our life to see things our way and we realize that we cannot control them and their behavior.
- Job struggles where we wrestle with whether we should stay or go.
The times of struggle and failure can develop a quality that is as rare as an 80-degree winter day in South Dakota. It is the character trait of TENACITY.
Tenacity is built through failure. Tenacity says, “I won’t let go until I grow.”
Failure? Bring it on.
Failure IS an option.
Lean into it.
Grow from it.
And you’ll be a better person because of it.
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