DCL 5.5 Instruction | The Top Ten Reasons People Fail

In this DCL module, the sessions presented by Tom Atema do not entirely follow the notes.  Tom decided to share on the subject of ‘Failing Forward’ from his own experience. The video has been included in full to use at your discretion.

Video Presentation: Tom Atema, VP of International Ministries and Strategic Partnerships, EQUIP


A failure can become your best friend if you learn from it. Conversely, a weakness ignored and re­peated can become your worst enemy. You must become aware of recurring issues in your life. Do not mentally minimise the amount of damage that a weakness may create. You must not ignore the following weaknesses:

1.  Poor people skills

Leadership experts consistently list inability to relate to others as the number one reason lead­ers fail. As John Maxwell often states, “If people can’t get along with you, they won’t go along with you.”

2.  A negative attitude

Your attitude at the beginning of a task will affect the outcome more than any other factor. Your attitude always determines your altitude. You will never soar to the heights of success if you live in the pit of negative thinking.

3.  Not playing to your strengths

While you must first examine your attitude, sometimes you are in a situation that does not match your abilities, interests, personality and values. A change of situation may be required that will let you focus on your strengths.

4.  Lack of focus

If your life is out of focus, you have problems—not because you are busy, but because your priori­ties are out of order. This results in wasted time and resources. If you go from task to task without making progress, or you cannot seem to reach a goal no matter how hard you work, examine your focus. No one can move forward without it.

5.  A weak commitment

Apathy is a deadly disease in leadership. Commitment is the remedy. If you are committed, a failure does not mean that you will never succeed. It just means the task may take longer. Com­mitment makes you capable of failing forward until you reach your goals.

6.  An unwillingness to change

If you are not changing, you are no longer growing as a leader. Change is a catalyst for personal growth. It gets you out of a rut, it gives you a fresh start, and it affords you an opportunity to re-­evaluate your direction. You don’t have to love change to be effective, but you must be willing to accept it.

7.  Taking a short-cut

Cutting corners – taking short cuts – is a sign of impatience and lack of discipline. Success always involves a commitment to excellence and a persistence to follow through until the task is com­pleted.

8.  Relying on talent alone

Talent is overrated. Talent alone is not enough to take a person through the multiple challenges of life. The greater your talent, the more likely you are to lean heavily upon it and skip the day-to-day work of improving it. Those who rely on talent alone, without developing further, usually peak quickly and soon fade into obscurity.

9.  Response to poor information

It is crucially important that you gather reliable information to evaluate issues and make deci­sions.

10.  No goals

Many people don’t have goals because they haven’t allowed themselves to dream. If that describes you, it is time for you to ask God to birth a dream in your heart. You must discover why you are on this planet. A goal is nothing more than a dream with a time limit.



  • Everyone has weaknesses. Review the top ten reasons people fail and determine in which of these areas you may need improvement.

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