To Succeed In Life, You Need To Use Your Failures

From Pisa To Sienna To Assisi
By Bo Sanchez (from

From our hotel, the leaning tower of Pisa was a stone's throw away. It was utterly beautiful; I kept walking to it just to stare at it one more time.

As a child, I loved reading about the leaning tower of Pisa.

It was an odd monument. It was so unique, Leonardo da Vinci used it for his experiments on the law of gravity.

And there it was, right in front of me, in all its failed glory.

Because that’s what it was: A giant failure of the grandest proportion. This cathedral bell tower built 700 years ago began “sinking” on one side a few millimeters each year, causing it to lean. Efforts to repair the tower’s foundation were also dismal failures—the tower kept on leaning on its side.

Friends, I can imagine how many sleepless nights the leaning tower gave its builders, architects, designers, owners, contractors, and engineers down through the centuries. When you think about it, the tower was one failure after failure after another failure.

But precisely because of this failure, it has become a phenomenal success. Because of its oddity, for centuries now, millions of tourists have visited her—making Pisa a very prosperous city. If the tower didn’t “fail” and instead stood straight, it would just be one of the many bell towers in Italy—nothing special at all.

Lesson? I’m sure you have already failed many times in many areas of your life: Family failures, job failures, spiritual failures…

Friend, if you want to be a great success, don’t avoid failures. Instead, use them. When you’re able to use your failures, you bless the world with your unique gift.

As a child, I was sexually molested. As I grew up, I developed a sex addiction. I wish these tragedies never happened to me. But God has healed these wounds. And today, I’ve used these failures to bless the world. I allow my wounds to heal others who have also been abused. I preach about my experience, and written this part of my life in a book (entitled, Your Past Does Not Define Your Future) which is blessing thousands.

From Pisa, we visited Sienna and prayed with St. Catherine. And as we walked out of the city, that was when we failed miserably: We got lost! Imagine 70 people walking around aimlessly in the city.

We lost 3 hours of our day being lost.

After asking for directions and a couple of phone calls, we finally packed a public bus to where our tourist bus was parked.

Great failure, right?

Yes and No.

Because as I told you, my pilgrims are pilgrims, not tourists.

One of our pilgrims was a Mother Superior of the Poor Claires. She was visibly tired walking. But I heard her say with a huge smile, “I will not let this—or anything else—destroy my day.”

Wow. What spunk. What spirit.

Everyone in the group used the failure of getting lost to chisel the character of Jesus in their souls.

We rode our bus with great delight.

After two hours of driving, it was already dark when we entered the enchanting town of Assisi—one of my most favorite spots on planet earth.

I’ll tell you more about it next time.

Find God In Unexpected Places

From Nice, France, To Pisa, Italy
By Bo Sanchez

This is ironic.

Because our pilgrim group was going to Rome, our bus had to pass the French Riviera and stay one night in Nice. Does that place ring a bell?

I don’t know about you, but I only hear “French Riviera” when I read about Hollywood stars taking vacations there. And right next to Nice is Monaco and Monte Carlo, very famous for its casinos, glamour, and Grand Prix racing.

From the French Riviera, we crossed the Italian border, and by late evening, we entered the old town of Pisa—and spent the night there too. Yes, the one with the famous leaning tower. (I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow.)

But as this was part of our road journey, we had to pass these “worldly places” and find God in them too. We could of course have taken a plane and “jumped” from one holy city to another. For example, we could have flown from Fatima and jumped to Lourdes, and from Lourdes hopped to Rome.

But that wouldn’t reflect real life.

Because human life consists of the sacred and the secular. Not everything we do is outwardly religious.

But here’s what I’ve realized: As we mature in our spirit, these boundaries blur. The mature Christian sees everything as sacred.

Why? Because God is everywhere.

Let me say something shocking here: A spiritually mature person is equally at home in her prayer meeting and doing her laundry; She is spiritually at home attending Holy Mass and shopping in a mall. Why? Because if God is her home, and if God is everywhere, then she is at home everywhere.

As heretical as this may sound, how does one know if a prayer meeting or Mass becomes “effective” in our lives? Only if they train our spiritual eyes to recognize the same Presence of God in other people, in nature, especially in the poor, and in ourselves.

Of course, someone could quote my words above out of context and say “Bo is telling us not to go to Mass anymore”. On the contrary, I believe it is our highest praise. But unless you’re a monk, you can’t stay in church 24 hours a day.

Friend, do you find God in your job? In the mall? In the gym? In the restaurant? In the movie house?

Concentration Camp survivor Victor Frankl talks about another woman in the prison with him who knew she was dying. She spoke about the one thing that gave her joy each day—a tree outside her window. It gave her so much comfort. The woman said that she spoke to the tree each day—and the tree spoke to her. She said that before her days in prison, she never had the time to see how beautiful something as simple as a tree is. It was God’s Presence, God smiling at her.

Friend, you and I are so busy, we no longer see God in the simplest things. But if we look deeply, in these simple things, we see God smiling at us.

So smile. He is smiling at you.