Use Your “Advance Warning System” to Avoid Failure

A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel.
—Proverbs 1:5

Another way to learn from your failure is to use your advance warning system to avoid failure.

Pilots of commercial airliners have in the cockpit a system that warns them when they are flying too low. If they get too close to the ground, an automated voice says, “Pull up!” Isn’t it better for a pilot to heed that instruction and avoid failure rather than to allow somebody else to learn from his failure? Avoiding a crash is always better than allowing somebody else to learn from your crash.

It’s the same way in your life. Surround yourself with some people who will warn you when you are about to crash and burn. These people can alert you to the possibility of failure and say, “Watch out!” You and I need people in our lives who will tell us the truth.

Prayerfully identify one or two people who love you enough to tell you the truth. Then say to them, “I value your counsel so much that if you see me about to make a mistake in my marriage, in my work, in my relationship with God, or in any part of my life, you have complete freedom to tell me about that. And I promise if you tell me, I will receive with gratitude what you say.” It is important that we all have that kind of advance warning system to avoid failure.

Dale Carnegie is recognized as a successful motivational speaker. His book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” has sold more than 15 million copies. His Carnegie Institute for Effective Speaking has trained thousands of people in the art of effective communication.

But Dale Carnegie was not always a success. He entered a number of speech contests but never won. He failed to graduate from college because he couldn’t pass Latin. He moved to New York City to become an actor but failed in that career as well. Carnegie went to the local YMCA and offered to teach a public speaking course. Although Carnegie failed in college and as an actor, he succeeded in his career in the YMCA. He wrote free pamphlets about effective speaking for his students. Later those free pamphlets became the basis for his megaselling books.

What was the key to Dale Carnegie’s success during his second act in life? His biographer summarizes it this way: “Two keys enabled him to turn his failure into success. Number one: His unwillingness to be stopped by failure. And number two: His willingness to learn from his failure.” Simply put, Dale Carnegie refused to mess up for free. And so should you.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Don’t Mess Up for Free” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2016.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Giles Kemp and Edward Claflin, Dale Carnegie: The Man Who Influenced Millions (New York: St. Martin’s, 1989), 134-35.

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