Failure = The Secret to Success


Unlike the engineers and management of Honda, teachers and students, being in the education business, often see failure as a bad thing. In Memphis, the city schools have a no failure policy for grades K-3 and a one time fail in grades 4-8, the rationale being that failure is damaging to the self-esteem of our youngest students and leads to dropping out in the upper grades.  What does this teach our children? Failure is bad.  We are going to protect you from failure.  We don’t want you to fail.

Perhaps we should look at this from a different perspective.  Is failure fun?  No.  Do I ever like failing?  No.  Is it possible to succeed at everything the first time?  No.  Do I learn from my failures?  Always.

I think that we have forgotten that children are very resilient.  If taught that failure happens to us all and that it is a learning experience, they will be able to come back even stronger.  Thomas Edison, one of the greatest inventors of all time, said of his efforts to invent a working light bulb, “If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”

We must stop looking at failure as something that is bad.  It isn’t pleasant, and we should do our very best to avoid it, but failure is an opportunity — an opportunity to learn, an opportunity to try again, an opportunity to succeed the next time.

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