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Failure And Transparency

If I made a list of all my failures there wouldn’t be another thing said in this blog post.  It would simply contain all my shortcomings.  It would not be a pretty list and I would find it difficult to face you.

Once I had to opportunity to compete in the school wide spelling bee during my seventh grade year.  I was surprised to make it, despite my good spelling ability.  I had always been a good speller and I was very proud of this.

During the spell-off for my grade, I defeated a girl that I had no business beating.  She was smarter than me and worked much harder than I ever thought about.

Unfortunately, we had the spelling bee in front of the student body.  I may have been a good speller, but my good natural ability was exceeded by the anxiety I came under whenever I had to stand in front of people to do anything.

I missed the first word given to me.  I don’t remember the word.  In fact, I probably wished that I could have forgotten it that day.  The event haunted me, as did my reaction.

I took off the placard containing my name and information that dangled from my neck and threw it like a Frisbee.  Unbelievably, it flew like one too, across the gymnasium floor.

I didn’t really watch it, but my seventh grade science teacher let me know exactly what happened later.  It seems that no one was really pleased with my performance that day.

I groaned and grumbled, but it wasn’t until many years later that I understood what the problem was.

I’m not sure when I learned this, but it was much later in life than I wish it had.

People do not despise you for your failures.  No one cared that I missed a word in a spelling bee.  I was one of the best spellers in the school.  I was able to do something that most people in the school either couldn’t or didn’t want to do.

People despise you for not being transparent about your failure.  Even when my teacher called me out for my true failure, I wouldn’t admit it.  I made excuses for it.  I didn’t think it was any big deal.  Even so, that event stuck in my memory for years until I admitted to myself what I did wrong.

That’s one of the greatest things about the Church.  James tells us to confess our sins to one another (James 5:16).  No one is bothered by your sins if you truly confess them and take responsibility for them.  What will they despise?

They will despise it if you hide them or act like you haven’t sinned.

What should we do?

Suck it up.  Confess your sins.  Admit your failures.  Seek forgiveness. Don’t sweep anything under the rug.  Bring them out into the open.  Be transparent.

Do you find it easy to admit failure and be transparent?

  1. December 11, 2013 at 1:12 am

    Great post, Larry! To answer your question:

    I find it easier on my blog to be transparent because most people who read it I don’t interact with in meatspace. I find it much more difficult in my “real life” if you know what I mean.

  2. December 11, 2013 at 5:53 am

    I am sort of a ‘what you see is what you get” kind of guy…up to a point. To be totally transparent takes someone I feel comfortable with not sharing what I say with the whole world, nor will he judge me. Even on my blog I try to be somewhat transparent. Not all the way there but inching that way.

  3. robshep
    December 11, 2013 at 7:13 am

    It takes work and it is much easier to hide. True growth happens when we are honest with ourselves and others.

  4. December 11, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Yes, in work situations. I find that people really do respond to that and forgive me for all kinds of mistakes big and small if I just own up to it an say I’m sorry. Not so much in my personal life. Personal mistakes, emotional things, failures that make me feel like less – embarrassed, unworthy, unlikeable, mean, all that kind of thing – those are much less easy for me to own up to. I’m more inclined to sweep that stuff under the rug or hope whatever mess I made blows over quickly.

  1. January 12, 2014 at 6:37 am

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