Failing Forward Towards Success - April 12, 2021

Failure and disappointment are an unavoidable part of life but individual moments of disappointment or failure do not define us.

Posted
April 16, 2021
Figure standing on side of mountain with arms outstreatched

Failing Forward Towards Success - April 12, 2021

Failure and disappointment are an unavoidable part of life but individual moments of disappointment or failure do not define us.

Posted
April 16, 2021

JFS Friends – 

The great football coach Vince Lombardi once said:

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”

Michael Jordan, considered one of the best basketball players of all time, said:

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career.
I’ve lost almost 300 games.
26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed.
I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.
And that is why I succeed.”

Jordan’s words are a wonderful reminder that failure and disappointment are an unavoidable part of life but that individual moments of disappointment or failure do not define us. The most successful people have these moments as well but learn from them and use them to do better the next time.

Martin Buber tells the story of the great Hasidic Rabbi Zusya (Rabbi Zusya of Hanipol). Towards the end of his life he began to cry and his students and disciples tried hard to comfort him. They asked him, “Rabbi, why do you weep? You are almost as wise as Moses, you are almost as hospitable as Abraham, and surely heaven will judge you favorably.”

Zusya answered them: “It is true. When I get to heaven, I won’t worry so much if G-d asks me, ‘Zusya, why were you not more like Abraham?’ or ‘Zusya, why were you not more like Moses?’  I know I would be able to answer these questions.  After all, I was not given the righteousness of Abraham or the faith of Moses but I tried to be both hospitable and thoughtful.  But what will I say when G-d asks me, ‘Zusya, why were you not more like Zusya?’

This story is a powerful reminder that the we need not worry about comparing ourselves to others – the question is not why I cannot play basketball like Michael Jordan, or be a famous coach like Vince Lombardi – the question that is most relevant is, “what have I done with the talents and abilities that have been entrusted to me?” Each of us is entrusted with a unique set of skills, abilities and potential and our purpose is to make the most of those traits to do something positive in the world.

As we start the work week, keep in mind that your success is most appropriately measured by asking yourself if you are doing your best with your own unique skills and abilities.

Thank you for bringing your unique talents and abilities to JFS and for using these abilities to advance our mission to transform lives by empowering individuals, families and communities.

Take care,
Carl Josehart's signature

Carl E. Josehart, MSW (he/him/his)

Chief Operating Officer

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