“Failure is not an event; it’s a judgment about an event.”
~ John Ortberg
One of the most amazing stories of faith and courage occurs in Matthew 14:22-33. Recognizing Jesus walking across the Sea of Galilee, Peter asked to join Him. Jesus gave the invitation, and Peter got out of the boat and walked on water….and then he sank.
Peter remembered the wind and the waves, took his eyes off of Jesus and sank into the sea. Fortunately, the Lord reached out his hand and caught Peter before he drowned. “You of little faith,” Jesus said, “why did you doubt?”
You might think Peter was a failure. True enough, he had such little faith that he doubted Jesus’ ability to overcome the wind and the waves. But let’s not forget that he did walk on water! Who else has ever done that? And remember, there were eleven other witnesses to the event. What were they doing? They were hugging the boat.
I’m sure they were afraid of the risks of getting out of the boat. They might drown. Even if they didn’t, they might lose face in front of all their friends by trying to do something impossible. Their friends might have been offended that they acted like they were better than the rest. Their friends might have thought they were showing off for Jesus. Jesus might have scolded them for asking to do something that was His job. There were probably one hundred reasons for staying in the boat, but Peter didn’t. So, let’s give him some credit.
On your team, which would you prefer – Boat Huggers or Water Walkers? If you want Water Walkers who take risks, who innovate, who get out of their comfort zone and find new ways to solve problems, you are going to have to redefine the meaning of the word failure. Making a mistake while trying something new is not failure. Missing the target while challenging yourself to try a new skill is not failure. Offering an idea that no one likes is not failure. Getting bad feedback about a new way of doing things is not failure.
Failure is hugging the boat. It’s playing it safe. It’s staying in your comfort zone and refusing to take risks. It’s sticking with old, ineffective methods. It’s waiting for someone else to be the first to step out of the boat.
Getting out of the boat means your team members are going to get wet sometimes when they sink. Your role is to catch them when they fall and celebrate with them when they walk on water.