In my last post, I talked about recognizing the gifts that we all have and the diversity of those gifts. Understanding our unique abilities and working in our strengths develops a sense of self and increases self-esteem. It gives us focus and direction in life.
One problem we have created in the interest of making sure that all children have high self-esteem however, is that we have tried to eliminate failure from our children's lives. Both at school and at home we focus on how students can be successful and certainly we all want every child to feel successful in something. We want to identify, develop and celebrate talents. However, we also need to make sure that we don't protect children from occasionally failing at something. Why? Because we all learn a great deal from failure. Sometimes I think we learn more from failure than we do from success.
What Can Be Learned from Failure?
Many of life's great lessons are learned from failure or hardship. In fact, if you look into the background of many successful leaders past and present, you will find early lives of adversity. I'm not suggesting of course that we create hardship, there is enough of that to go around! Instead, we need to teach children the right perspective for viewing failure. We need to teach them to expect that there will be times of hardship and disappointment but that if they will put into practice what they have learned from it, they can turn failure into success. We need to teach children that failure should challenge them to do more or act differently or to become better, but not to give up.
Failure is Part of Every Success
One way we can do this is by example. We can teach children about well -known people who have overcome failure and continued to create a successful life. There are numerous examples of people who had significant periods of failure in their lives. In the political arena, Abraham Lincoln lost 6 different elections before becoming president. Thomas Edison's teachers thought he was unable to learn anything. In addition, he had 1,000 failed attempts before he created the light bulb. When asked how it felt to fail 1,000 times, he replied, " I didn't fail 1000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps." Ted Turner, founder of CNN and owner of the Braves baseball team wasasked how he kept going when his sailing team lost year after year and his baseball team came in last four years in a row (before winning the World Series). His response was, "I wasn't failing, I was learning how to suceed." Turner's perception of failure resulted in ultimately becoming successful. We need to make sure that students learn that success often comes out of failure.
Here is a fabulous video about a boy who accepts and takes failure in stride! He has created a monster trap that is beyond complicated. How many tries does he think it will take to make the trap successful? A ton! Does he give up? Not at all. He is absolutely jubilent when it takes less than expected. We can all learn something about the necessity of failure from this child.
Parents and Educators Provide Role Models
As parents, teachers, and other significant adults, how we handle failure in our own lives will be an even more important lesson for our children than how we handle success. It will be a blueprint for our children as they face failure in their own. We can share with children the times we have experienced failure and the lessons learned.
What about you? Has failure or hardship been something that has ultimately shaped your life for the better? What lessons would you share that you have learned from failure?
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