Fail Thee Well

I had a great idea for this blog post, but I just couldn’t put it together in a coherent way.  As such, I was forced to scratch the original and find another idea to write about.

I tried a second time, and the words, again, just didn’t come.

If you can’t get it right the first time, try again. 

And again.

Sometimes, in order to succeed, we need to fail.  Most people accept that fact.  There is a bigger part of this though; a bigger part that I think most often gets lost.

Sometimes we have to fail a lot in order to succeed.  That’s the part about failure that isn’t mentioned as much.  In fact, there is a sense that a person has to only fail once before succeeding, that one failure signifies that the next attempt will be an automatic success.  I think people accept the first failure and can come to grips with it because they think that the next attempt has success all but guaranteed.  In classrooms we often hear the following statements coming from students:

I am done, I revised it.”

“But I made all the corrections.”

 “It’s still not good enough? But I did everything you said.”

 “Look how much time I put into this.  It has to be great.”

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.  At all.

No, sometimes, in order to succeed, you need to fail and fail again.  And again. 

I think one reason children don’t understand this is that as a society we try to make things too easy.  (Just watch any advertisement for any exercise machine.  You never see people working hard, they are always relaxed and having great fun.  The announcer says, “Do this for just 45 seconds each month and you’ll be in the best shape of your life.”)  Nothing in life works that way.

Nothing is that easy.

Learning isn’t that easy.

Success isn’t that easy.

And, the big point – failing isn’t that easy.  To fail well is hard work. 

To fail well, one has to fail, and fail again.  It is on those successive failures that a person really grows. 

Life is about more than one revision. 

To fail well, and then ultimately succeed, one has to pick himself up from the depths, dust himself off, and try again.  And again.  And then again.

This is the definition of resilience.  Resilience is what ultimately brings success.  It is because of resilience that failure isn’t permanent. 

Unfortunately, as previously noted, this is the aspect of failing that is most often lost in the explanation.

One critical component of growing exceptional students is to have them truly understand what it means to be resilient – to have students who truly understand, and value, the process of hard meaningful work and struggle along the way to success.

True success isn’t easy.  It’s hard.  It’s hard to fail well.

Students need to know and understand that success will come only to those who truly work for it.  They must embrace the idea that success most often comes only after a series of failures.

As such, fail.  Fail well.  Fail often.  Just don’t let failure be a permanent state.  Learn from your mistakes.  Take chances.  Believe.  Grow. Be resilient.  Know that each failure brings you one step closer to success.  But it’s just one step.  There are many more you must take to achieve success.

To fail well takes great skill.  Practice it and you will succeed.




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