Recovering from Failure
The opening ceremonies at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia were nothing short of spectacular. Ceremony organizers estimated that 3 billion people world-wide watched the pageantry. Hosting the Olympics is a matter of national pride, and each year the opening ceremony seems more and more spectacular. The Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee promised “the most technologically innovative ceremony ever.” But as the world watched the nearly three-hour extravaganza one of five giant snowflakes failed to transform into a circle, leaving the Olympic rings one short of their usual set.
Russian President Vladimir Putin frowned. Russian business leaders criticized. Russian citizens were just plain embarrassed. Global cynics snickered. How do you recover from such an epic failure?
It would have been so tempting to simply pretend that the event never happened, to simply move on. But that’s not what happened. Instead, during the Closing Ceremony organizers poked fun at themselves. A group of silver sequined dancers formed the iconic Olympic rings, but one cluster of dancers stayed “closed”, just like that one poor snowflake. Eventually the circle did open to thunderous applause. It was a brilliant move, transforming and redeeming the earlier failure.
We all experience failure, some of it epic. Perhaps we can learn a thing or two from Sochi about how to handle it more effectively.
1. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Failure isn’t fatal.
2. When you blow it, acknowledge it. Guilt and shame grow in the dark, so bring your failure into the light.
3. Try again. Don’t let failure paralyze you. Grit is often the best predictor of success. Watch this six minute TedTalk to learn more about the power of grit.
4. When others fail let’s avoid frowning, criticizing, shaming and snickering. Empathy (because we’ve all been there) and encouragement can set others free to live light-hearted.
Proverbs 24:16-17 are words worth living by, “The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked. Don’t rejoice when your enemies fall; don’t be happy when they stumble. For the Lord will be displeased with you and will turn his anger away from them.”
How have you seen failure redeemed and transformed? Leave a comment so that others might be inspired.