One of the most popular internet memes right now and for the last few years has been the idea of saying “Fail!” any time someone messed up. A simple Google search of the word fail doesn’t bring up the definition of fail or failure until the fourth result. The three before that are to the three most popular “Fail!” sites.

Basically what we’re doing is making fun of people for any time they mess up. Yes, it’s all humor related and most of the time it’s very light hearted or someone really did do something stupid, but it still has made it the norm to make fun of someone failing.

And at the same time, it’s made people even more scared to screw up.

I’m constantly scared I’m going to mess something up. Every week that we have FUEL I look over the slides for our screens over and over to make sure there are no typos. I’m always worried that I’m going to say the wrong thing at the same time. I’m consistently wondering if the decision I’m about to make is the right one or the wrong one.

I don’t want anyone to take a snap shot of what I’m about to do and slap the word “Fail!” on it.

I think that I’m wrong in living and thinking like that. I’m learning that failing isn’t a bad thing and that maybe, just maybe, it’s a good thing. Sometimes it’s evan a great thing.

Had I not failed at making the baseball team my sophomore year of high school, I never would’ve found out how much I enjoy coaching.

Had I not failed at picking a college the first time (and second), I never would’ve had to rely on God to show me what he really wanted.

Had I not failed at a relationship, I never would’ve gone through the things that made me into who I am today.

Failing hurts when it happens, but in the end, it can be something that is great.

In his book Sweat, Blood, Tears: What God Uses To Make A Man, author Xan Hood writes about a friend of his who is in the Air Force. He writes:

It was fascinating to hear him explain how they trained. Theirs was a culture based on the pursuit of perfection, impossible as it is to obtain. … Most of the training comes by flying your F-15C jet against more experienced flight instructors until you screw up or make a wrong move. When he screwed up, he would head back to base, then spend many hours going over his mistake in a debriefing time with his instructors. … “We fail, we listen to our instructors, and we fail, and the instructors are right there to walk us through our mistakes,” he said.

It was a culture in which people admitted their mistakes. Mistakes were not the end of the world – in fact, they were teachers.

I love that story. The culture around where these pilots trained was one that strived for perfection but knew that failure was imminent. Instead of embarrassing a person when they failed or slapping a big, “Fail!” on their forehead, their instructors sat down with them and used their failure as a learning point.

When I’m scared to fail, I generally hold back and don’t do as well at something as I probably could because my goal is not to do my best but rather not to fail.

I didn’t put it as one of my goals for 2011 yesterday, but I think if I were to add one more to that list, it would be this:

Don’t be afraid to fail.

I want to go out and take chances. I want to do something that may be a little unconventional and if I fail, well, I fail. I’ll learn from it and make sure to not make the same mistake next time.

If I have to get a “Fail!” sticker slapped on me to make me a better leader, a better boyfriend, or a better person then bring it on.

Who knows, maybe that sticker will even make me look a little better.