I know, I probably should have titled it The Efficacy of Failure in order to be grammatically correct, but if you stick around, you’ll find out why I opted for The Efficacy of Fail.
I listened to a brilliant devotional this morning by Cassy Budd. She’s a professor of accounting at BYU who talked about the beneficial role of failure in our lives. She talked about how her personal trainer strategically designs her weightlifting routines so that whatever muscles they are working ultimately achieve failure. Her trainer has taught her that pushing her muscles to the point of failure is what generates the greatest increase in size and strength.
Cassy likened weight training and muscle failure to our own personal shortcomings, weaknesses and failures. She emphasized the beauty in repeated failures for it forces us to realize how inadequate we are on our own and how much we are in need of the Lord’s mercy, assistance, and grace.
Her speech made me think of the following scriptures:
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (1 Phil 4:13).
. . . with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).
These thoughts were top of mind during my lesson today, especially as we discussed the Savior’s command to the members of His church to meet together oft to partake of the sacrament (D&C 20:75).
I asked the class why they thought the Lord would command His church to meet together oft to partake of the sacrament? A wonderful discussion about our need to regularly repent and renew our baptismal covenants ensued.
We discussed the beauty of repentance and how it helps us transform and become better. I shared my insights from Professor Budd’s devotional address on Failing and Finishing and we discussed how failure, like repentance, is a beautiful necessity that facilitates learning and hastens success.
Don Paver–an elementary school teacher–shared an awesome insight. He said that in his classroom he writes the word FAIL across the top of his white board like this:
I loved that so much! It perfectly captured what I was trying to convey about repentance being a beautiful gift and how failure enhances learning and accelerates success.
I shared how this principle is also true in my professional work. When it comes to pay per click advertising, and really every marketing endeavor, we promise our clients that we will fail fast– for the quickest route to success is for us to figure out what doesn’t work, kill it, and once we figure out what does work, feed it.
I also related the story of Thomas Edison who failed at the light bulb multiple times and simply said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Anyhow, I guess what I hope everyone understood today is that failure is okay. So long as we keep on trying. In fact, Robert Louis Stevenson said it best when he penned, “Saints are sinners who keep on trying.” And Confucius claimed, “Our greatest glory lies not in never falling but in getting up every time we fall.”
Fortunately, for each of us, no matter how many times we fall, we have a God who has promised he will not fail us:
. . . as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee (Joshua 1:5).
May we all realize the beauty of repentance and the efficacy of fail–for failure and repentance helps us learn, progress and ultimately obtain eternal success.