The hitchhiker failure

I don’t like failure. I know I’m competitive, so my first instinct is to project my failure on others or circumstances. It is easier to blame the dog for eating my homework than admit I procrastinated. It is easier to blame weather or my other obligations in not being able to do a task. It is easier to blame others who gave me the wrong information or failed to do their responsibility than admit it really settles on my shoulders. I really could have finished my task if I tried hard enough.

A story goes that a man named John was driving home late one night when he picked up a hitchhiker. As they rode along, he began to be suspicious of his passenger. John checked to see if his wallet was safe in the pocket of his coat that was on the seat between them, but it wasn’t there. So, he slammed on the brakes, ordered the hitchhiker out, and said, “Hand over the wallet immediately!” The frightened hitchhiker handed over a billfold, and John drove off. When he arrived home, he started to tell his wife about the experience, but she interrupted him, saying, “Before I forget, John, do you know that you left your wallet at home this morning?” 

Been there done that in judging people so quickly. Also, I have many times given blame to others or circumstances “out of my control” in my failures. I think the most important part of one’s strength and integrity are to accept failure with grace and humility. We all fail so the opportunities are continual for growth. Our Creator made each of us strong enough to take failures as growth moments. We just have to make them happen.

Next time I leave the house, I’ll be sure to take my wallet. You never know when a life lesson is waiting around the next curve.

By Retired Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) Ray Bailey

Former Deputy Chief of Chaplains