Taking risks is hard. That's true at any age, but seems to be especially true in middle and high school. One reason why is because adolescents have an "imaginary audience," which is how psychologists label the belief of tweens and teens that everyone is watching them. For many teens, it feels as if everyone is not just observing but also judging them. Understandably, that can increase the fear of failure.
While failure is often seen as something shameful, especially by teens, it's also an essential part of the learning process. Parents and schools are working to shift how kids see failure and open their eyes to the possibility it presents. It's certainly something we're working on in our house right now, too.
I was struck by Buzz Aldrin's Facebook post about how he was twice turned down to be a Rhodes Scholar, with the reminder that "[s]ometimes your greatest disappointments or failures lead to your greatest success."
That inspired me to find some other thoughts on failure from great people. (Because, let's be honest, adolescents may give a little more credence to quotes from famous people than from their parents.)
Here are a few quotes about failure that I recently found for my teen.
"It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default." - J.K. Rowling
"Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success." - C.S. Lewis
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” - Robert F. Kennedy
“When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important.” - Ellen DeGeneres
"Do not be embarrassed by your failures. Learn from them and try again." - Richard Branson
"I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. I can't accept not trying." - Michael Jordan
"Failure is simply the opportunity to to begin again, this time more intelligently." - Henry Ford
"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." - Thomas A. Edison
“Failure is not the opposite of success; it’s part of success.” - Arianna Huffington
“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don't try to forget the mistakes, but you don't dwell on it. You don't let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” - Johnny Cash
“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.” – Confucius
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” - Albert Einstein
"There is no innovation and creativity without failure. Period." - Brené Brown
"Failure is a bruise, not a tattoo." - Jon Sinclair
“Remember that failure is an event, not a person.” – Zig Ziglar
You can hear some of J.K. Rowling's thoughts about failure in the commencement address she delivered at Harvard in 2008 here:
And as parents, it's not easy to watch your child fail. Brené Brown offers advice for parents in this Time article "Brené Brown on Teaching Kids to Fail Well."
You May Also Like: 5 quotes by Chicago Cubs Manager Joe Maddon that also apply to parenting
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