We were headed to a special place. A hidden gem in the back woods of Alabama. Steven and I had received an invitation to bring our sons to hunt ducks on the state’s youth waterfowl hunting day. This day was set aside so that only hunters under the age of sixteen would have an opportunity to experience the magic and beauty of duck hunting. We had been invited to join several other fathers and sons for this amazing experience.
We arrived and I introduced Luke and Bryant to the other boys. I greeted some old friends and met some new ones. We set off to the hillside and sat the boys down. The first thing on our agenda was a brief firearms safety course. The boys leaned in anxiously, listening intently, all the while trying to suppress the obvious excitement within each of the their hearts.
Each young man then got an opportunity to shoot at some clay targets, and we dads had an opportunity to coach our boys in how to aim at and hit a moving target. The others watched and cheered whenever one of the boys would shatter the target over the lake. These were special moments.
On Luke’s second attempt he connected and orange dust exploded over the water. I shouted and cheers echoed. He turned and looked at me through his safety glasses with wide eyes, almost in disbelief. Then a sly smile crept across his face and I knew he felt it. He felt the victory.
The moment you go from doubting in your mind to confidence in your ability is a milestone moment. These are moments that should be treasured and remembered.
The fear of failure is a real thing and can be paralyzing to some people. I’m sure you’ve faced this enemy before in your life. We all have. Many times we can reclassify it as fear of the unknown, but its root is always the same. You can be convinced to hold back from new experiences, or even from following your dreams because there is a chance it won’t be everything you imagine it can be or, worse yet, you may not have what it takes and you will fail.
The truth is, however, that if you never make an attempt, your chances of failure are one hundred percent. This is the truth that your enemy is trying to keep you from seeing. You were designed for great things. Designed to make a difference. Designed to impact people. As long as you allow the fear of failure to keep you paralyzed, it will be impossible for you to find the significance and meaning you were designed to live out. Is it better to have lived a life free of failure, but also without significance, than to have lived a life shaped by your failure propelling you forward into your future?
The lives of the greatest influencers, leaders, and champions we know are marked by failed attempts and mistakes. Those failures and mistakes are what give such great context to their ultimate successes.
What are you avoiding in your life because it may cost you everything? What passion is burning inside you that you’ve kept hidden because it’s going to require a risk? Whatever it is for you, I know this… Fear is a shadow, often appearing much larger in your mind than in reality.
The funny thing about shadows is that the closer you get to the light source the larger they become. Try it. Put your hand between a flashlight and the wall. The closer you get to the light the larger the shadow on the wall becomes. The fear of failure in your life is no different. The closer you get to your purpose and significance the larger the shadow of failure becomes, but there's more to this... Think about this. You only see the shadow when you're looking away from the light. If you look at the light source you don't see the shadow because it's behind you. When you turn your life and effort away from your true purpose and real passion all you can see is the shadow of fear on the wall in front of you. Turn your life towards your true purpose and real passion and the fear will dissipate. It will be left in your wake as you move forward.
The greatest irony, in fact, is that the only remedy for the fear of failure is failure itself. The heroes in my life who have achieved great things are those who have overcome their failures and been propelled further into their future because of their mistakes. In other words, if you’re ever going to defeat the fear that has kept you from your destiny you’re going to have to fail. It’s going to take a few attempts. You’re going to have to risk something to gain anything.
Just like with my son it may take one or two shots, but when you finally connect to your purpose, the fear that has ruled over you will vanish. When you connect your passion to your purpose and start to live a life that is impactful and significant, one that leaves a legacy, that fear of failure will shrink and become insignificant.
No matter where you are on your journey, your greatest days are ahead. Your purpose has not changed. Chase your purpose with passion and send fear packing. You are a man who matters and you CAN live a life of impact. It’s exactly what you were created for.