Have you ever experienced failure?
I’m sure you have.
In 1995, actor and producer Kevin Costner experienced a huge career failure when his movie Waterworld failed at the box office. The film had been beset by inflated production costs and on-set disasters. A hurricane destroyed the set at one point and even Costner almost drowned while filming. When it was all said and done the film cost over $175 million dollars making it the most expensive movie at the time. When the movie finally opened to audiences it failed to connect and made only $88 million.
The press was merciless to Costner, the cast, and crew. Waterworld was considered a joke and Costner’s career took a major hit. Before Waterworld, Costner was an A-list superstar with a great box office trace record. Afterward he was damaged goods.
However, Costner didn’t let that failure go to waste.
Entertainment Weekly published an article about the production of the movie Battleship. Like Waterworld, this summer’s action packed movie was filmed on the open seas and had the potential to meet many of the same obstacles that Costner and crew faced. While in pre-production, the director of Battleship, Peter Berg, received a phone call from someone offering to help them plan and prepare for their wet and wild production schedule.
It was Kevin Costner.
In the interview, Berg describes their conversation:
I was in my office one day. I get a call. Kevin Costner’s on the phone. I’ve never met Kevin Costner. I’m like, “Hello?” He’s like, “I need to come in and talk to you.” I’m like, “…Kevin?” He’s: “I need to come in and talk to you.” I say, “When?” He says, “Tomorrow.” I say, “Okay!”
So he comes in, he sits down, he says, “I feel compelled to talk to you and I want to tell you” – verbatim — “the stuff we did right and the stuff we did wrong.” And he talked to me for three hours about the perils of filming out on the ocean.
It was awesome. Kevin is a great guy and I think, maybe it was a little cathartic for him [laughing]. He’s probably waiting to have this conversation with someone for a long time. But, yeah, he didn’t have to do that and, you know, I can’t say enough about him. He made a huge difference.
When we experience failure in ministry or in life, often we take our licks and then bury that failure some place when no one will find it. We become embarrassed or angry whenever our failure is brought before us. We act as though we never failed.
Costner saw a crew of people mounting a production similar to his greatest cinematic failure. He took it upon himself to reach out to the crew and share his weaknesses and failures concerning that project. He did all of this in order that someone else wouldn’t have to go through the pain and frustration he did. He did this so that other people would succeed where he failed.
What if you started flipping your failure to someone else’s benefit?
Who could benefit from hearing the lessons you learned from a mistake you made? Invite them to lunch and share your failure in order to help them win big.