I’ve failed a LOT in my life. More than I care to admit. I’ve taken many risks personally and professionally, and failed in my endeavors at LEAST half as much as I’ve succeeded. Sometimes I’ve failed right away; at other times it’s taken awhile before I’ve made the difficult decision to cut my losses in a given situation, and move on.
While failure feels miserable and is always hard to endure to some degree, I’m always glad I’ve gone through it. Experiencing failure is a great life lesson in a way that nothing else is, and why I want my kids to experience failure as much as possible:
Failure builds character
Character is the ability to pick yourself up after you’ve been knocked down, and move forward. It’s one of the best skills you’ll ever have in life. There’s no way to master this ability except by failing, learning from your mistakes, and trying again, or going in a different direction.
Failure builds courage and coping skills
Like any other skill, the more you fail, the easier and more comfortable it gets for you. As a result, the idea of failure isn’t as scary or as life threatening as it once seemed. After you’ve failed enough times, you become brave and courageous enough to face the prospect of failure without terror, taking the experience in stride.
Failure teaches compassion
You want your kids learn how to care about the trials and tribulations of others? You want them to be community minded, with a sense of the world around them? One of the best ways to feel empathy for others is to be able to relate other people’s experiences to our own, when we’ve gone through something similar; when we have failed.
Failure leads to success
My husband jokingly refers to this as “failing up.” We all know the story about how many times Thomas Edison tried before he succeeded. An MLB player who bats over 3 out of 10 is considered an elite hitter. One of the most oft repeated mantras of the tech world is, “fail fast and fail often.” All because without the strike outs, the missed shots, the seemingly brilliant business ideas that the market doesn’t want, you won’t get through to the shots and ideas that DO work.
So yes, I want my kids to fail, and I want them to do it as much as humanly possible. I want them to live life with gusto and go after whatever it is they want in this world. I want them to know it’s perfectly okay and normal to be afraid, but to learn how to not let that fear hold them back from pursuing opportunities. They WILL fail, and that’s okay.
Because then they WILL succeed.
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