Leadership DevelopmentStudent Leaders

Failure is NOT Fatal; Perfection NOT a Requirement

It’s one of the biggest messages are student leaders need to hear this year:

Failure is NOT fatal; Perfection NOT a requirement.

Because the truth is that — for fear of failure — many of our students will struggle to really give themselves fully to their leadership roles this year.

Of course, this sounds counter-intuitive at first — but when we give less than our best, less than 100%, we’ve then got an excuse for when things don’t go well.

And so in some ways, there are some of our students who have predestined themselves to fail — because it’s what they fear — and now, it’s become a sort of prophecy to be self-fulfilled. Even though that’s not what they want.

But they idea of giving their all — giving their very best — and potentially failing is too hard to consider.

It’s a measure of self-protection. And I get it.

But I wonder how our student leaders might be freed up to succeed if they were to hear (and know) — from us (because we tell them — over and over) — that failure is NOT fatal and perfection is NOT a requirement.

How might this change their mind-set?

Their confidence levels?

Their willingness to take risks and give their all?

There are some factors that are out of our control.

And truth be told, there are some forms of failure that will have consequences (most often this is the kind of failure that comes with not putting forth effort, not following through with responsibilities, and not really caring about the people and/or roles they have committed to.

There is SO MUCH POTENTIAL in our student leaders — and many need to be freed up from the kind of thinking that suggests that they need to be perfect, and there’s no room for failure.

I want my students to take risks this year!

I want them to succeed WILDLY!!

Don’t you?

Oh, and it took me a few times of seeing the photo above before I noticed the subtle apostrophe placed after the I — drawing the contrast between I’m Perfect and Imperfect. Love whoever came up with this.

And one last thing — I wish I could take credit for the catchy: “Failure is NOT Fatal; Perfection NOT a Requirement” tag, but I can’t. It was one of the students who helped to bring shape to our campus-wide leadership training. #goodstuff


  • MJ

    I think I like this message for myself. Does that make me selfish? Thanks, Guy!

  • Luke Hatfield

    How do we balance this important point you’re making with the truth that God’s standard is perfection? Perfection is required. It’s just that the requirement has been met in Christ, and so all who trust in Him alone have been given His perfection as a gift! Wow!