“Anything is possible if a person believes.”
– Jesus, in Mark 9:23
Our Lord spoke these words to a dad whose son was in a health crisis. But the principle Jesus gives us is expansive. How do we view life? How do we handle failure?
In John Ortberg’s recent book, All the Places to Go…How Will You Know? he tells of a series of studies by researcher Carol Dweck on how people handle adversity. She was particularly interested in how people face obstacles, limitations, and failure. In one study, she took a group of ten-year-olds and gave them increasingly difficult math problems that were beyond their abilities. The point was to see how they would handle failure. Predictably, most students became discouraged. However, a few had a totally different response. One kid—in the face of failure—smacked his lips, gleefully rubbed his hands together, and said, “I love a challenge!” Another kid, after failing several math problems in a row, said, “You know, I was hoping this would be informative.”
Dweck was baffled. She thought, “What’s wrong with them? I always thought you coped with failure or you didn’t cope with failure. I never thought anyone loved failure. Were these alien children or were they on to something?”
Then she had a breakthrough realization. These kids didn’t merely handle failure well, they actually didn’t think they were failing. They thought they were learning! What a concept! “I’m not failing, I’m learning!
Dweck came to the conclusion that human beings have two different mind-sets about life that are in opposition to one another. One of them is characterized by limited possibilities. They believe that life has a fixed amount of gifts and talents, and their worth depends on much of those gifts and talents they have.
But there is another way to view life – with a view of UNLIMITED POSSIBILITES.These people believe that there is always something new to learn and that growth is always possible. This view enables one to embrace challenges. Failure thus becomes indispensable and simply something to learn from.
Michael Jordan is considered the best basketball player who ever lived. When asked about his success, this is what he said: “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Here’s our challenge: View failures as learning opportunities. Become bold because you no longer fear but embrace failure. Trust the word of Jesus:“Anything is possible if a person believes.”