Recovering from a False Start

Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time with 28 medals, but even he has experienced false starts and come back from them.

Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time with 28 medals. He has experienced a few false starts in his career.

As we discussed last week, false starts happen in life as well as in leadership. False starts may happen in leadership when you arrive with enthusiastic vision for your new role or after you have been in the same place for 20 years.

Last week we talked about the signs of a false start. Today let us look at how to recover from one.

Stop. You will not be able to recover from a false start if you do not stop to address the reason(s) for the false start. Too many leaders can tell by the way things are going that they have had a false start; but rather than stop, they keep moving forward with their plans while blaming their followers for the way things are going.

I have often wondered why leaders who no longer have the support of the people do not stop, but press forward and make things worse. Perhaps it’s pride or another character flaw, perhaps it’s immaturity or stubbornness. Regardless of the reason, stopping is the best course.

Get objective input. It is very difficult to be objective when you are in the middle of the situation. It seems easier to rely on power, authority and influence during times like these. But usually this only makes matters worse.

Get the input of respected, mature and godly people who will be honest with you about the current situation. Do not seek out only the people who will say what you want to hear; that’s a tempting response to a false start. Instead, talk to people who can be objective and honest with you about how to recover from your false start.

You are most likely to get an objective and honest response from people who do not depend on you for a relationship or a paycheck.

Enlist prayer support. This is crucial because you want to know what the One who called you into this position of leadership has to say regarding the current situation.

Why wait until the situation is out of control and the damage has already been done before enlisting prayer support?

Every leader should have a number of people they can call on to join them in prayer regarding any situation.

Approach the situation with an open mind. You may be allowed to continue after a false start, as is the case in some events at Rio Olympics. But in other cases, the track events for example, one false start means disqualification from the race.

Having to give up on something that you having been working hard to realize is not easy. But at times you have to accept that a thing must die before something new can be born.

Sometimes, pressing on after a false start results in more harm than good for the Kingdom of God. Therefore, as difficult and painful as it might be, for the greater good of the Kingdom, some goals may need to be re-envisioned, set aside for a time, or dropped altogether.

Sometimes you do get a second chance after a false start. When you do, be mindful of the mistakes you made the first time and intentional about not repeating them.

Have you had a false start? Do you know if you should continue, or accept the reality that it is time to let go and move on? Apply the above suggestions to your current situation to see whether you should continue or let go.

If you would like help in achieving your goals in any area of your life, call us at 208-880-0307 or email us at to schedule a complimentary coaching session. To read Errol’s other posts, visit Christ-Centered Life Coaching.