Growth in Failure

The only thing that can veritably thwart progressive MARGINSgrowth is your opposition to success and your appeasement in failure.

As I find myself yet again this year scrambling to lesson plan, write syllabi, arrange classrooms, and pray for more sleep, I have been asking myself a host of critical questions about purpose, renewal, and relationship.

Do you ever find yourself stuck in days that never seem to want to end, but when they finally do, the only thing you crave is more time? – The very time you chose to will away. Do you ever notice that some of the best opportunities are shunned because fear overwhelms logic and reason is mistaken for a guilt-ridden morality? How is it that we can feel fear, see fear, know fear’s fallacy, and still become a slave to its grasp on our lives?

Why is it that often when we don’t get what we want or we are not in the place we’d like to be that we succumb to the idea that because of situational duress, we can’t grow regardless of where we are or what we are doing? Whether it is an ideal situation, we yearn for something different, or we are simply aggravated by the daily grind, the shuffle, or the life we wish was being lived differently or more purposefully, we still have the opportunity to grow.

After all, with each new day we are given a chance to learn something new! Perhaps that means we can explore a new skill, create something we never knew ourselves capable of doing, engage with someone in a new way, foster meaningful relationships, and even dare to discover love in all its facets. We can be bold and we can take risks. So, the question I ask is, “Why hold back?” Why not fail forward and not ever again look backwards?

We try.

We fail.

We risk.

We seek.

We grow.


Because life is not to be lived in the consummation of work or the constant distractions that draw our focus in scattered directions. Life is to be lived in the margins. It is to be lived in those tiny spaces we carve out to experience what it means to be alive. It’s the laughter after a long day, the relational capacity we build with others through trial or hardship, the dance that allays anxiety and captivates the movement and emotions of our heart, the endless conversations when we yet have much left to do, the humor that lightens our darkest days, the first smile of an infant encountering a world yet left to innocence, the teammate who congratulates and affirms your winning efforts, the elderly couple still basking in the glow of youthful love, the family member who reaches out just to check in and see how you’re doing, the stranger who willingly asks another, “Are you okay?” These experiences exist within the margins. These are the very spaces we create and must allow for without question.

So the pulse of this last week for me balancing a new full-time job, plus part-time work, and other commitments? – Tense. Yet, the lesson, however, has been pacifying. I am maturing as an adult and growing in the responsibility I have towards my passions, while acknowledging the privilege of the work that is right in front of me.

This next week as a new school year settles in and begins to reveal its shape, I challenge each and every one of you to be thankful for where you are right now, to learn to fail forward and to eagerly seek those margins beyond your grasp of control. My hope is that you will embrace risks whenever and wherever you can, fail without fear, and harness successes – even those seemingly miniscule successes that only you may know about.

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