May 10, 2010

Fail Trying

I had an interesting thought the other day. Actually, it was probably the result of many thoughts and experiences from the past several months. I was thinking about why things go wrong, why things don't always work out the way we want. I thought about how afraid I am to fail - I don't like to fail - do you? Then it hit me - there are two ways to fail, really: 1) you can fail trying, or 2) you can fail by simply doing nothing.

Thomas Edison failed thousands of times in his attempt to invent a working incandescent light bulb. But listen to what he had to say about that: "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." He didn't consider himself a failure at all! I would have probably given up after about the third try. Thomas Edison understood that unless you are willing to fail trying, you will probably never succeed. The alternative is to quit - thereby failing by doing nothing.

US general Colin Powell coined a rule called the “P40/70″ rule. It’s a formula to help leaders in battle determine when there’s enough evidence to take action. The thinking is that if you have less than 40% probability of making the right decision with the amount of information you currently have, then you should seek more information. But how much more? Powell’s theory is that if military leaders decide to wait until they have enough information to give them a greater than 70% probability of making the right decision, they are likely to make the wrong decision "because that decision will be too late." The battlefield conditions will have changed.

Maybe we should apply the P40/70 rule to our own lives. I'm not suggesting we live recklessly and out of control. Planning is important. But if we spend all our time planning for that guaranteed success, chances are we will be too late, thus resulting in failure.

Are you taking a risk? Step out of you comfort zone, make a risky decision in obedience to what God is telling you to do. Don't wait too long, or you will certainly fail.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

This posting made me think. I like the way to begin conversation about obedience. We often get caught up in the risks, as you said, and take longer to "give in." But, we fail to see that we are being disobedient while we do that. I like the way you compare to the 40/70 rule. It's a good comparison.