What Goatees Teach Us About Failure


I had an epileptic fit last month, which left some cuts on my face, and stopped me shaving for a while. As a result, a goatee began to grow on my face. And because people like it, and the scar hasn’t fully healed yet, I’m yet to shave it off.

It’s looking like becoming a full grown goatee. I’m not looking forward to making the decision whether or not to shave it off.

But it’s got messy. It’s overgrowing. I asked a friend who’s grown one, and he said this is a stage which often happens when growing facial hair. After the cool stubble phase, and before it goes to the smoother, more easy to control hair, there is an in-between stage, where it looks a little overgrown and messy.

Rough. Slightly discomforting, and not perfectly formed.

I couldn’t help thinking the process of growing a goatee, is a bit like the process of growth we all experience.

We start off like wildfire, with great forward momentum. It’s new, it’s exciting and, lets face it, pretty cool. Like stubble. We like the feeling this new thing gives us, the buzz, the energy. The romance.

But then it gets messy. Rough. Awkward. We feel uncomfortable. We’re think about giving up. Although quitting would be a little painful, it’s still possible.

I’ve experienced this recently. A number of failures and setbacks, some humbling experiences, have compelled me to enter into a period of reflection. To examine myself, my motives, my passion and even my calling. I had periods where I’ve seriously considered quitting blogging and sharing my work, and to just write for myself.

However, I can’t quit now. Quitting would be the easy path. Like shaving off my goatee just because it felt uncomfortable (if I did shave it off, discomfort wouldn’t be the reason). Just write for myself, not risk impacting no one’s lives and getting no response to my work. If I quit, there’s no way I can fail.

But is this a reason to quit? Maybe, for some. Life is a whole lot easier if you don’t put yourself out there and risk it for the sake of others. Especially if you’ve already tried and it’s not gone as you’d like.

Very tempting. But not courageous. Not a stimulus for growth. And I know I’ll regret it.

I’m still undecided on my goatee. But I’m certain when it comes to writing. I’m not going to give up. Crazily, I’m going to keep going. I’m going to take some time, reflect, pray, go back to the to the heart of my calling to write. Then I’ll go write some more, from the heart. And I’ll jump again. I’ll risk. With no guarantee of the outcome. Because it’s the right thing to do.

There’s never a guarantee of success in life. None. But this shouldn’t stop us. (go on, tweet that)

If we go through life not risking because we’re afraid to fail, we won’t ever become the people we were created to be. Because what I’ve learned is failure is as much a part of God’s plan for us as success.

Maybe you began something for the new year and are considering giving up. Maybe you pursued a calling and it’s not going so well. Maybe it’s something else. But don’t be afraid to keep risking. And if you fail, don’t see it as the end. See it as an opportunity to grow.

If you feel like giving up, take a moment and think. Reflect. Go back to your heart and remember why you began, what your calling is.

And go again. Step out. Risk. Dare to be you.

Whether you succeed or fail, you won’t ever regret risking.


Do you agree or disagree with me? Why/Why not?

Have you tended to quit when things got difficult before?

How can you overcome the temptation to quit and push through to growth?

Let me know in the comments below!


This is my entry to a writing contest, ‘Overcoming Writer’s Doubt’ held by Positive Writer.com. It wasn’t originally written with this contest in mind, but I felt it fitted absolutely with the theme of doubt, so entered it. You can find out more here.


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  1. Tara Fairfield on January 20, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    So glad you are not giving up James because you truly have a gift for this and I believe that gift comes from God, to use in this way, to encourage others. You encouraged me today and I feel better knowing others struggle as I do, we are not alone.

    • James Prescott on January 20, 2014 at 4:51 pm

      Thanks Tara for these amazing words of encouragement. To know my words are making a difference and that you see this gift in me too, is really encouraging and just what I needed to hear right now, in so many ways. Thanks for your comment and glad you liked the post.

  2. Elyse Salpeter on January 20, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    I liked this post! Though I wish if I just decided not to shave my legs I’d have some sort of wonderful epiphany rather than people in my office looking askance at me as if I were a cavewoman! LOL!

    • James Prescott on January 20, 2014 at 4:50 pm

      Thanks Elyse – yes, I think not shaving would work very differently in your case!! LOL.

  3. Bob Nailor on January 20, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    Giving up is not an option, it’s a easy way out – totally different. I wrote for several years without submitting. If I submitted, I could get rejected. If I got rejected, it meant my writing was less than spectacular. As long as I didn’t submit, my writing was very good. One must learn to come to terms but perhaps, in some way, make those terms acceptable to you. Living in a vacuum (a bubble) is not the answer. To give of yourself is to learn. I started to do writing tips and after several months of no responses, I quit. A few months later I was asked why I wasn’t doing them. One person told me they were learning from my tips. With that feedback, I re-instituted my writing tips and now I share myself with others and in doing so, I learn, both about me and others.

    • James Prescott on January 20, 2014 at 4:50 pm

      Great comment Bob, totally agree with you on this. Excellent wisdom from your own experience, thanks for sharing!

  4. Joan on January 20, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    James – you’ve written another encouraging post and one I needed to hear today. I think there are times when all writers want to quit. I know I have. But, as I shared on Facebook, I will not be defeated – especially by my own inner critic.

    Keep writing and keep sharing. Your words are making a difference!

    • James Prescott on January 20, 2014 at 4:49 pm

      Joan, you have no idea how much I needed to hear that. Thanks so much for your kind and encouraging words, really glad my writing is helping you grow & encouraging you. Thanks!

  5. Diane on January 20, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    As a youngster, following in the footsteps of a very intelligent and talented big sister, I developed a way of protecting myself from being compared to her: better to not try, then to try and fail. Fast forward and the tendrils of that childish mechanism still tries to kick in (even though my adult mind believes differently). Fear of failure (and the tangled mess that goes with it) is a difficult one to shake, but I agree with you 100% that facing fears and not giving up is the only way to grow, fly and become who we were meant to be.

    • James Prescott on January 20, 2014 at 5:13 pm

      Thanks for sharing so honestly Diane, appreciate it. We all have to battle through insecurities and fears – I definitely do – but we can overcome. I hope you can battle through and find your true identity. Go for it!

  6. Anne Borrowdale on January 21, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    I love how the goatee has turned you into Spock, though a little afraid that the photo shows evil Spock in a parallel universe!

    To be serious, thank you for this post, and your honesty about the tough, risky side of following your calling to write. You are helping many people through your words. You’ve reminded me of a poem by Hazel Nowell Ailor:

    It is a daring prayer, “Thy will be done!”
    If answered it might well destroy our ways.
    There may be heights where we are called to run,
    With victory eluding all our days.
    But cautious prayers produce such timid souls,
    And dreams may die while waiting for their time.
    My hands might never touch the high-set goals,
    Yet I must stake my life upon the climb.

    • James Prescott on January 21, 2014 at 6:49 pm

      Thanks for the comment & your kind words Anne, really appreciate it. And what a prayer that is – thanks for sharing.

  7. Eileen on January 21, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    Love the analogy, James…of course I’m kind of bummed you didn’t include a selfie sporting your goatee! 😉

    • James Prescott on January 21, 2014 at 8:54 pm

      Well you aren’t the first to ask…so maybe I will on Facebook soon. 🙂 Thanks for the encouragement too, glad you liked the post.

  8. Anastacia on April 21, 2014 at 11:15 am

    Very good post, James! I think you should consider entering this post in Bryan Hutchinson’s Writer’s Doubt contest. I honestly think this could win. It’s so heartfelt and honest with a great analogy in it. But whether you choose to submit it or not I really appreciate this encouraging post.

    • James Prescott on April 21, 2014 at 11:40 am

      Thanks Anastacia, really appreciate your comments & encouragement, it means a lot. Glad the post encouraged you. I’ve now entered the post into Bryan’s contest, so we’ll see how it does. Thanks! 🙂

      • Bryan Hutchinson on April 21, 2014 at 11:42 am

        I’m glad you entered it, James. Great post!

        • James Prescott on April 21, 2014 at 11:46 am

          Thanks Bryan, appreciate it. 🙂 I’ve now changed the link to a clickable one, so hope that helps. Sorry for the confusion!

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