The Worst Thing to Fear: Failure

We put so much emphasis on winning that if failure is even a remote possibility, some people won’t even try.


I wanted to share a tremendous illustration of that heartbreaking mind-set. I was introduced to this story at church a couple weeks ago. While the example of God’s love is powerful, I think this story can be told without any religious undertones.

This distressing story revolves around people selling themselves short and being paralyzed by failure:

You Already Have an ‘A’

Robin found herself in a very difficult English Literature course that she desperately wanted to get out of. She sat there on her first day and thought, “If I don’t transfer out of this class, I’m going to fail. The other people in this class are much smarter than me. I can’t do this.” She came home and with tears in her eyes begged her dad to help her get out of the class so she could take a regular English course.

Her dad said, “Of course.”

So the next day, he took her down to the school and went to the head of the English department. The dad’s account:

She (the head of the English department) looked up and saw me standing there by my daughter and could tell that Robin was about to cry. I said, “I’m here to get my daughter out of that English class. It’s too difficult for her. The problem with my daughter is that she’s too conscientious. So, can you put her into a regular English class?”

The teacher said, “Mr. Brown, I understand.” Then she asked, “Can I talk to Robin for a minute?”

She said, “Robin, I know how you feel. What if I promised you and ‘A’ no matter what you did in the class? If I gave you an ‘A’ before you even started, would you be willing to take the class?”

My daughter is not dumb! She started sniffling and said, “Well, I think I could do that.” The teacher said, “I’m going to give you an A in the class. You already have an A, so you can go to class.”

Later the teacher explained to Robin’s father what she had done. She explained how she took away the threat of a bad grade so that Robin could learn English.

Robin ended up making straight A’s on her own in that class.

• • •

I often refer to Max Lucado’s wonderfully great stance on fear. I thought it would be appropriate to share again:

“Fear never wrote a symphony or poem, negotiated a peace treaty or cured a disease. Fear never pulled a family out of poverty or a country out of bigotry. Fear never saved a marriage or a business. Courage did that. Faith did that. People who refused to consult or cower to their timidities did that. But fear itself? Fear herds us into a prison and slams the doors.”

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