If you’re familiar with the stories of Christendom, you probably know the one about St. Peter walking on water. As a kid I heard the story many times and always with the same lesson: Peter was a failure because he grew afraid of the wind and waves.

I knew I’d be very uncomfortable about walking on a constantly heaving wet floor, let alone actual water. But that never came up. None of the pastors I heard recount the story every praised Peter for having the nerve to get out of the boat to start with. They just warbled on and on about how everybody needed to be less like Peter and have more faith.

Therein lies the reason for the dredging of my childhood and slapping a gasping memory on a page before you.

Peter continues to be degraded for failing to take more than a few steps across a churning sea but I’ve yet to hear somebody mock the dudes who stayed in the boat. Many of the good folks around would have you believe that life is all either hot or cold. Success or failure. Laudable bravery or deplorable cowardice.

Good for them.

Let’s take a break from that mindset and think about the times you’ve gotten out of a boat in your life. Don’t focus on how you didn’t make it more than a few steps away from the boat before you needed to be rescued. Don’t focus on your failure to walk across the ocean. Think instead of all the steps you DID take. Think about how you believed in something enough to do what others said you couldn’t.

You got out of the boat. That’s amazing. You can do it again, too. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Show kindness without an end game — Few are capable of such a thing. When presented with an opportunity to be kind, take it if you’ve got the resources. You’re out of the boat.
  2. Complete a cost-free step to achieving a dream — Too often we let money get in the way of progress. Pick a task or group of tasks you need to make a dream happen and complete them. You’re out of the boat.
  3. Take a worldwide problem and solve it for somebody in your neighborhood — Changing the world is an impossible task but you can make a difference on your doorstep. In changing the world of another, you’ve changed the world for us all. That’s definitely a getting-out-of-the-boat sort of approach.

What do you think? Should we continue celebrating failure like the gurus tell us to or should we focus on those first successful steps and figure out how to repeat them, learn from them, and add to them?

I’m glad for your thoughts.

Image: Kevin Dooley

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