I always end the year by writing about my accomplishments, failure, regrets, and resolutions. I love this time of year because the calendar naturally moves me to reflect and take action. This post is all about 2020 failure.
There are three types of failure:
- • Process failures
- • Relational failures
- • Character failure
Process failures are the events that happen in our lives that don’t go as planned. We fail a math test, we miss a turn on the highway and need to drive five more miles before it’s safe to turn around, or we accidentally leave the door open and the dog gets out. These failures happen because we’re distracted, overwhelmed, or behaving subconsciously in a way that isn’t doing us any favors. Want to stop making mistakes? Don’t look at the failure. Look at your behavior five minutes before you failed. There’s your first clue on how to turn that ship around.
Relational failures are the big and small moments where we blow it with people who matter. The moment where we react before someone is finished speaking. When we snap at a colleague when the stakes are low. When we’re unkind because we’re preoccupied with our own stories. No man is an island, as John Donne wrote. We need to do better by the people in our lives. Most of the time, it starts by improving the dialogue we have with ourselves.
Character failure is the active state of choosing darkness over daylight for short-term gain. Self-sabotagers, cheaters, liars, and thieves aren’t just breaking laws — they are walking, talking examples of broken people. No outside institution or self-help book can motivate someone to overcome character failure. That’s the kind of deep, introspective work that takes years to sort out and comes with plenty of setbacks if it happens at all. If you love someone short on character, I feel for you. Know this: your integrity might be taxed in the process. Fight against that.
My 2020 was a year filled with process, relational and character failures; however, it was also filled with profound growth moments. (Let’s not kid anybody. I’m still an asshole.) But my goal is to learn from my mistakes and be a different type of jerk in 2021.
Baby steps, people. I’m trying. That’s what this journey is all about.