categories:, leadership, staff
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July 15th, 2008

by Bobby Gruenewald

19 comments (+ Add)


We have consistently told our team that failure is not an option…it’s a requirement.  But is that really true?  The other day I had a good friend challenge me on that after I was significantly upset about some failures that affected our weekend experiences.  He asked me to reconcile the statement that failure is a requirement and my apparent lack of tolerance for failure that weekend.  The answer is that there are different types of failure some that are necessary for success, and others that can and should be avoided.

The rest of this week I’d like to discuss three different types of failure:

  • Failure to try
  • Failure to execute
  • Failure to succeed

What has been your experience with failure?  How has it changed your life?…or has it?

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there are a total of19
  1. Jul 15, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    Failure, and moving forward from it has been the corner stone of the major lessons in my life. Failure is a teacher, but it shouldn’t repeat in the same areas, you should learn.

    I guess instead of saying that “failure is a requirement” one could rephrase by saying “failure is never a reason to stop, always keep moving forward.”

  2. 2Brad
    Jul 15, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Failure is a part of life. The failure that kills me is the foreseen failure. If it is foreseen then it can be dealt with. But, if a problem is foreseen and not dealt with that is what drives me nuts.

  3. Jul 15, 2008 at 5:15 pm


    I have failed a lot. But at least I’ll never say I failed to try.

  4. Jul 15, 2008 at 5:32 pm


    Kudos for your transparency. Thank you for this post; thank you for helping to create a culture in which it’s acceptable to fail.

    My personal failures have cost me a lot, but they have also taught me a lot. To say that I am not a different person because of them would be a lie.

    Hopefully, I’m still as aggressive and innovative–if not more so–than I’ve ever been. Now, I just try to make sure that I’m more in tune with the costs of the risk(s) at hand.

    “To fear any failure is to secede all success,” Abba. July 15, 2008.

  5. Jul 15, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    Tony Steward’s response reminded me of “Meet the Robinsons” the Disney film. They had a family culture in which failure was GREAT! They also had the phrase “Keep Moving Forward”! If you keep moving forward toward your ultimate goal then failures are redefined as setbacks which really knocks them down a few levels. I am currently working to redefine some failures I had in business to become merely setbacks. It’s not easy but it is absolutely necessary to change the meaning of the failure.

  6. Jul 15, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    when success or failure is measureable then failure is inevitable. what your talking about is just a lack of effort. It is frustratating when people are not whole-hearted or passionate in their efforts to make things great. why is it that so many people lack passion, drive and a commitment to quality. It really takes some drive and passion (and experience) to accomplish something great. it really comes down to attitude and perspective.

    love the post. very timely.

  7. Jul 15, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    I had a talk with a guy last week where he asked me to explain a statement I made to him which was, “I don’t trust people that haven’t failed”.

    I think most people, if they have been around for a while, have failed miserably at something. I hope so, and I hope they have learned from it.

    It’s the people that have failed miserably and haven’t either learned and gotten better or try to cover it up that I have a hard time getting along with.

  8. Jul 15, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    In a sense I think failure is simply an oppurtunity to learn and get better. In sports, no great athletes never tasted failure..they all did and it’s what drove them to succeed. It’s how you react to failure that differentiates between why one person succeeds and another of equal ability doesn’t.

  9. Jul 16, 2008 at 12:47 am

    failure is the opposite of faith.

  10. Jul 16, 2008 at 2:56 am

    As a young leader a number of years ago I had strong views on how church should be done. The Senior Pastor had different ideas. I left with a very bad attitude and then got involved with a church plant where we were going to do church the right way. Needless to say we failed. I ended up apologising to the Senior Pastor and have continued to serve at the church for 20 years. In some ways I wish I could change what I did but failure changed me for the better and taught me many lessons.

  11. Jul 16, 2008 at 4:45 am

    Failure has taught me that God’s love really is unconditional. It has motivated me to focus on Him more than on me. Thanks for posting.

  12. Jul 16, 2008 at 7:17 am

    Thanks for the post Bobby. Pat Williams in his new book “The Pursuit” has a section on failure. He tells how Walt Disney ended up bankrupt and left Kansas City for CA with 2 shirts, sets of underwear, a can of film and $40 in his wallet from selling his camera. He was 21 but determined to start over and said, “I think it is important to have a good hard failure when you’re young.” There is more in the section on failure but all of it is about the importance of failure as a growing time. I have made plenty of mistakes in the over 35 years in the ministry and I would be a fool if they were all for naught.

  13. Jul 16, 2008 at 8:18 am

    My failures have been God’s opportunities…every time.

  14. Jul 16, 2008 at 8:27 am

    Failure is not something I try to do, but when it happens it has brought me humility - and I’ve learned so much from my failures. So in the end, it’s one of the major things that has defined who I am. Is that sad?

  15. Jul 16, 2008 at 9:14 am

    My biggest one is often the failure to communicate!

    Thankfully I have an amazing wife that consistently helps me improve on this - which not only leads to a great marriage, but also helps me in my professional role at work.

    I have also noticed how sometimes a breakdown in communication can lead you to re-evaluate your processes which in turn strengthens bonds among a team. The breakdown looks and feels like a failure at the time, but is actually a step forward. The key is to work hard to move forward rather than to stay stuck in one spot.

  16. Jul 16, 2008 at 9:35 am


    This is my thought: no it is not sad. I am convinced that God can use any and every situation (even if it is bad) to make us into what HE desires. Both failures and successes define who we are.

  17. Jul 16, 2008 at 10:50 am

    My definition on failure:
    Failure//: A lesson on what not to do, on my next attempt.
    That’s all.

  18. Jul 16, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    [...] is failure? This blog REALLY knocked me for a loop.  It’s something that’s been on my mind quite a lot [...]