If anyone tells me they’ve never failed, I tend to assume one of two things: Either that he or she is lying to me OR that he or she has never lived in the real world. To be human is to make mistakes, fall down, and try again.
Think about it. How many times did you fall down as a toddler before you managed your first steps? How many times did you have to push off on your bike before you were able to ride without training wheels? If you play an instrument, how many hours did you practice before you got a piece just right? If you enjoy video games, did you get to the top level your first time playing?
And those are just simple things we enjoy doing. The hard stuff in life takes even more work to be successful. Our failures are a part of our personal stories, they help define who we are and why we make the choices we do.
A quick Google search led me to hundreds of famous quotes about failure. The one I’ll share with you was said by J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series. Her story is that she was a unemployed, single mother on welfare who had been turned down by twelve publishers. The 13th said yes and the rest, as they say, is history! She said, “Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time, but it is the ability to resist or use failure that often leads to greater success.”
We need to remind ourselves that failure is a fact of life and accept it as part of growing and learning. We need to forgive ourselves for our mistakes but also give grace to those around us who are trying so hard to learn new skills as well then celebrate when others achieve success.
The philosophy of failing towards success is key to ShelterCare programs. The consumers who our staff work with each day are all striving towards learning how to not only cope in our community, but to be part of it in a meaningful way. Each participant in our programs has a unique story filled with challenges they have overcome or are on their way to overcome. When a consumer enters our program, we have a no barrier philosophy for housing first, meaning that we believe that the first step to overcoming those challenges to have a safe place to live.
Just like everyone else, our consumers are going to sometimes fail in their journey towards a permanent housing situation. Like the children’s game of Chutes and Ladders where one minute you can climb to a new level, and the next find yourself back at the beginning, there will be false starts, mistakes, and second chances.
Success is falling down five times and getting back up six. It can be painful and slow and frustrating.
Oh, but that last time when a consumer reaches that success? That’s the best feeling in the world, and we all need to celebrate every single success.