We pay a heavy price for our fear of failure. It is a powerful obstacle to growth. It assures the progressive narrowing of the personality and prevents exploration and experimentation. There is no learning without some difficulty and fumbling. If you want to keep on learning, you must keep on risking failure – all your life.“
– John W. Gardner
I met Floyd while on my walk a couple of early morns ago. He pulled his faded small sedan along side and proudly proclaimed his 40 years of work experience. He was looking for some landscape work.
I paused, aggravated from the exhaust from his overloaded vehicle. Two younger men uncomfortable weighed down the backseat. I told him I had nothing for him and he politely moved on to any other existing opportunity.
When we arrived home, Floyd was in our backyard. Assessing our overgrown and every prolific crop of bamboo. With loads of exuberance, he complemented my attempts to trim my forest. I was using the dead canes to cover an old chain link fence. Floyd gave me encouragement on my thus far slow progress. He pulled out a small legal yellow pad and scribbled a dollar figure, “that’s what I’ll do it for.”
I thought of the soreness of my back and hands from my last clearing of the cane. While I was pondering the offer, his men had somehow squeezed themselves out of the weathered Nissan. Saws, trimmers, tools and cords had also escaped the trunk with the men asking for an electrical outlet. It was an offer too good to refuse.
Floyd signed the scribbled pad and asked me to do the same. He then laid out specific detailed instructions to his “crew” and left for another job. I shook my head feeling that I had probably just thrown my money away.
The two men set to not only taking out all the dead cane, but also installing it on my chain link fence. In talking to the two men, whose age I could not guess. I figured them younger than their weathered look by the speed of work. Talking to them I found out the younger looking of the two was the other man’s father in law. Oh yes, we all do have a story.
The men worked through the day, filling a trailer with dead bamboo promising to come back the next day. Floyd asked for a whole $20 advance for gas to get home.
Back at work the next day, I had a chance to visit with Floyd. He had a story, a wife dying of cancer, “a tumor the size of a cantaloup, they can’t take it out”. Bills just like the rest of us. Broken tools, a too old vehicle and an even older body, but a firm faith in the Lord (he had on a “I love Jesus” t-shirt). As I lay in bed that night contented with all their work and not a sore bone one, I thought of Floyd. How he was so ahead of me in the game. I don’t think I would have the nerve to just approach strangers asking for work. Touting my ability. I thought of how representative Floyd was in not only resisting failure, but his relying on faith and doing nothing more than asking for his daily bread.
A better man than me!…†…en theos….jim