One's focus can determine ones direction, thus the ability to either succeed or fail in life.
But what constitutes failure? What is success? What do they really look like? Have we gotten so "black and white" in our society that if success doesn't measure up to a certain standard or some invisible bar we have set, that it's automatically a failure? Have we become that shallow?
Our society likes to celebrate winning and everything that comes along with it: money, status, power, privilege, and fame. Yet failure is often what helps us develop perseverance, wisdom, and maturity. We tend to learn and grow more from our mistakes and failures than through our successes.
It has been said that when inventor Thomas Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb, a reporter asked, "How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?" Edison replied, "I didn't fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps." Edison has also been noted for saying, "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."
What a perspective! How close have you been to reaching a goal or achieving something, just to give up right before a break through? How many of you would have pushed through if you could have had a glimpse into the future to see how close you really were? The very definition of persistence and perseverance (two words I wish were in the Scout Law); ...a continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition. Taking the "I Can't" out of the equation and replacing it with "I Can" or "I Will".
What prompted this post was what happened, or rather what was said last night during a local troop's Court of Honor. As the ceremony was coming to a close, the Senior Patrol Leader (SPL) came forward to offer his "SPL's Moment," kind of like a Scoutmaster's Minute, only coming from the SPL. The SPL said, "Well, this was our June Court of Honor. It wasn't that great. We are still a young troop and still need to work on things." That may not be verbatim, but does cover the gist of what was said. The SPL looks over at the Scoutmaster to indicate it is his turn to come up for his Scoutmaster's minute.
The Scoutmaster was looking at his iPad while the SPL was speaking, he was glancing over what he was going to say for his time in front of the boys and their families. As the SPL spoke, you could see the expression on the Scoutmaster's face change. He closed his iPad cover, and set the device down on the table behind him, and began to speak.
"I had an object lesson all planned, but hearing what [SPL] said changed my mind. He said, "the Court of Honor wasn't all that great," but I think it was awesome! Why? Because they did it! They planned it. They executed it, ranks, awards, and achievements were given out, and I think they did a fantastic job." The audience applauded the boys.
The Scoutmaster continued on encouraging the boys to look at their accomplishments as more than just pass or fail. Was the Court of Honor perfect, by no means. But we are human and not perfect either. This is what Scouting is about. Teaching, growing, and guiding our youth to be our future leaders through learning and developing life skills. Whether those skills are cooking, swimming, life saving, first-aid, planning projects, communication, public speaking, or conducting a Court of Honor, the idea is not to get it perfect on the first try, but learn and develop, and grow into productive citizens of society. He wrapped up his speech with, "It's ok to stumble, to make mistakes, even to fall. But you have to get up and keep going, keep pressing on, keep moving forward, and ensure you are heading in the right direction."
Teachable moments come from time to time, and we must be diligent and aware of these opportunities that can be seized to instruct and encourage others....especially our Scouts. Anything worth having is worth striving for. We need to forget what is behind us and strain toward what lied ahead. Press toward the goal, to win the prize. Keep learning, keep growing, be purposeful, be persistent. . John Maxwell says that, “More than anything else, what keeps a person going in the midst of adversity is having a sense of purpose. It is the fuel that powers persistence.”
“Tell yourself, ‘I’m not a failure. I failed at doing something.’ There’s a big difference.”
~ Erma Bombeck