In case you missed last week's announcement, by the authority vested in me as a purpose coach and teacher, I have declared the week of April 27 officially to be Celebrate a Failure week the world over. During that week, I urge you to find every way possible to celebrate the powerful role of failure in your life or the life of your organization. You can read last week's Memo to discover some suggestions of how to celebrate. This week, however, I want to talk about the halls of failure, of which there are quite a few in my country. These are places where thousand of people come every year to honor those who failed regularly and with distinction in their careers.
Where are these halls of failure, you may ask? There is one in Canton, Ohio, another in Cooperstown, New York and another in Springfield, Massachusetts, just to name a few. If you follow such things, you know that these are the locations of the baseball, football and basketball halls of fame. Let's talk about why I call them halls of failure.
Let's first look at baseball. The best batters in baseball failed at least 65 percent of the time when they came to bat. The best pitchers failed as many as 40 percent of the time when they pitched, not to mention how many "non-strikes" they threw. The best fielders failed only about 10 percent of the time, but some of the managers remembered in the hall of failure lost almost as many games as they won.
In football, the hall of failure quarterbacks missed 50 percent of their pass attempts. The best running backs fumbled numerous times and the best defenders missed many tackles. In basketball, some of those enshrined in the hall missed 40 percent of their free throws. Others turned the ball over (gave it to the other team) hundreds of times and many lost games for their team when it counted most -- at the very end when they were the last ones to touch the ball.
You know that these halls where the greatest players are memorialized are not called halls of failure but instead halls of fame. They are places where thousands pay money to go and remember the greatest players, regardless of how many times they failed. In fact, no one even remembers how many times they failed. Their failures are ignored in the face of the successes they enjoyed.
What about the players memorialized in these halls of fame? What is their attitude toward failure? The statistics I quoted above are accurate; they did indeed encounter many failures in their careers. The key to great success for them was that failure did not define who they were or the legacy they left. Consider Michael Jordan, perhaps the most famous basketball player of the modern era and these facts about him in his own words: "I missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
The great players learned (and learn) to forget their failures. They used them as a means to improve. They studied what they did wrong and what they would do again if faced with a similar situation. They failed so much that they learned how to succeed. More importantly, they did not allow failure to define them because they did not quit.
So what's your story? How many times have you failed? Truth be told, you probably haven't failed nearly enough to be successful. Have you allowed past failure to limit your attempts to succeed today? Have you allowed the voice of past failure to coach your play today? I'm not referring to your sports career, but to your attempts to write, act, lead or parent. If you don't learn to forget your failure, no one else will ignore it. That's why we are celebrating failure, so can laugh at it and move on to success, however you define success for your life.
Don't miss this wonderful chance to put failure in its rightful place as a teacher and mentor. Join with me on April 27 and the days following to put failure in perspective. If nothing else, take a moment now and then to reflect on the truth found in Romans 8:28: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Talk about how God has worked God in and from your failure and then go out and do something great that your failure taught you to do. Have a great week and preparation time leading up to April 27.
Just a note to my Nigerian readers that I will make my first visit to Nigeria from April 5-12 in Kaduna at the Assemblies of God leadership conference. The conference is the Overcomers Rendezvous: The Total Christian. I will be speaking every morning from 9 to noon about leadership, Monday, April 7 through Friday, April 11.