Take chances. Make mistakes. Get messy!

Some of you may recognize the famous quote above, made by none other than Miss Frizzle from the Magic School Bus. Simple and concise, it brings forth a powerful message. Achieving great things always requires us to step outside our comfort zone! Most people want to avoid taking chances, making mistakes, and getting messy, which is why few people accomplish the incredible. Every single person in history who left their mark on the world made many mistakes and got messy in the process. However, they refused to give up, which is why they eventually succeeded!

Take Thomas Edison for an example. He is primarily famous for his invention of the lightbulb. He was an incurable experimenter, but not all of his experiments went well. One of his very first experiments was not only a failure, it was extremely dangerous! As a young teenager, Edison sold newspapers on a train. He decided to set up a laboratory in one of the train’s baggage cars. Unfortunately, one of his experiments caused a chemical fire which set the baggage car ablaze. After this, his days selling papers on the train were over.  However, Thomas was undeterred, and he went on to become one of America’s greatest inventors and business men.1

Let’s look at a modern day example. Dave Ramsey owns a very successful company that trains people to budget and stay free from debt. However, Ramsey himself declared bankruptcy as a young adult! He made foolish choices, and found himself desperately in debt with a young family and a new baby. Collectors even confiscated his furniture! After losing it all, Ramsey voraciously studied resources on how to wisely handle money. His work paid off, and now he helps other people get out of the same situation he found himself in years ago. Ramsey’s initial failure only propelled him into success.2

Victory after failure is as old as the Bible itself. Just look at Peter. He probably could have won the “worst disciple ever” award, second only to Judas. Peter put his foot in his mouth when he told Jesus that He wasn’t really going to die on the cross, then later when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus Peter violently lashed out. Worst of all, after promising Jesus that he would remain loyal even to death, Peter ended up denying his lord three different times. Even after all of this, God did not revoke Peter’s calling, and Peter went on to fulfill his destiny as a rock of the early church. The New Testament says that the callings and giftings of God are irrevocable. That means that God doesn’t pull the rug out from underneath as soon as we fail. He gives us a second chance, and a third, and a tenth, and a fifty-fifth, and a three thousandth and so on.

We have all seen that the process of achieving success requires failure along the way. My speech and debate teacher would always tell her students, “Fail forward to success!” Our first speech presentations were horrible, but we improved over time. In order to learn a new skill or start a new project, you must go through the rough patch at the beginning. As long as you keep moving forward, your failures can actually propel you into your triumphs.

In conclusion, don’t be afraid to step out and fail. Failure isn’t fun, but it often leads us to our greatest victories. When we learn from our mistakes, they become stepping stones to future greatness.