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Learning The Hard Way

If you get to Sweden later this year, you’ll have the opportunity to visit a new tourist attraction. The Museum of Failure is set to open on June 7th in Helsingborg. It’s got a collection of various inventions and innovations that didn’t quite make it. They also plan to offer unique workshops about how your team can improve by learning from failure.

Some of the exhibits include:

  • The Apple Newton – Apple’s early attempt at creating a PDA (personal digital assistant)
  • Google Glass – eyewear hooked up to the internet
  • New Coke – anyone remember when this came out?
  • Frozen Beef Lasagna – this sounds fine until you learn that the brand name was ‘Colgate’, the same people who make toothpaste
  • Rejuvenique Ultimate Facial Toning System – it sent mild electric shocks to your face to battle wrinkles
  • Harley Davidson perfume – apparently, bikers didn’t need their own eau de toilette

Samuel West, the creator behind the museum, says, “I hope that visitors take home two messages: a) that failure is inseparable from success and b) that they understand the importance of learning from failure.”

West, a psychologist, recognized that people prefer to ignore failure rather than learn from it. We pretend that it didn’t happen. Most of the stories we read about include people becoming wildly successful, but we don’t hear about their failures. Learning from failure is a critical skill that we all need to develop.

There’s a verse in Hebrews that is hard to understand. Talking about Jesus, the writer says, “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8) We find it hard to believe that Jesus needed to learn anything, but he learned obedience from the hardship and suffering that he endured. “And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.” (Hebrews 5:9)

Our failure and suffering is nothing compared to Christ’s. But if he could learn from pain and suffering, then we should as well. Hardship and failure are part of life. While never easy to embrace, we should remember that God is in the business of redeeming our mistakes. Once we learn that lesson, it makes it easier to move on.

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