Failure: It’s My Best Friend

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

Thomas Edison

Why would any of us welcome failure – and then call it a friend?! I do though. I mean, mostly. Failing at something only means, to me, that I have more to learn. Life would be awfully boring if there weren’t more to learn.

But our culture shifted towards rejecting failure, and treats people who fail at something once or twice like permanent failures.

History though, teaches us something very different.

Throughout history, we see that it’s the people who took big risks, failed miserably, but picked themselves up and kept going anyway who made the biggest breakthroughs.

Edison, Einstein, Franklin, Curie, just to name a few. They took risks, sometimes even with their own lives, and made big changes in the world.

Kids are natural scientists – they experiment, fail, try something different, fail again, and maybe the next time succeed. It’s our job to encourage them in their natural explorations, help them get back up when they fail and teach them by example to keep going.

Those lessons learned in experimentation and failure are vital to life, and failure is not something we should fear – but welcome.

We help our kids achieve goals, and take baby steps in order to be successful – more often than not. In doing so, we help our kids build confidence in their abilities – but is it truly confidence if they have not learned how to overcome failure?

Failure is a harsh teacher

A fool learns from his mistakes, but a truly wise man learns from the mistakes of others.

Otto von Bismarck, Chancellor of Germany from 1862 to 1890

Failing sucks. It hurts, bruises the ego, and sometimes costs money. It’s only natural to want to avoid it.

What reason could possibly exist to not just welcome, but invite, failure??

I can’t remember the first time I heard this quote, but it sort of bugs me. It implies, if not outright says, that in order to be wise, you can’t learn from your own mistakes. Certainly, I think it’s better to learn not to hurt other people because I saw how it affected people involved; and I know from history that genocide is bad. So from that perspective, it works.

Where it doesn’t work is in business, and areas that deal in personal growth.

Failing is vital.

“I don’t know if that will work the way you think it will, but go ahead and try….”

Said by parents throughout history…

In a culture obsessed with success, we often overlook the value of failure in life.

Think back to your childhood. Did your parents do everything they could to protect you from failing? Or, did they instead warn you, but let you do it anyway?

We are so focused on success, that we forgot that failure is important. Perhaps even more important than success. I know I’ve said it, and so have many of my friends – “I learn more from my mistakes than I ever do from my successes.”

Why then, do we try so hard to avoid it?

Failure is not permanent

This is important. The only time you can truly fail, and make it permanent, is when you give up before you try. So try, fail, and try again – while your kids watch. It’s a terrific example to set.

Even more importantly, let your kids fail. Repeatedly, frequently, and spectacularly. they’ll thank you for it later.

Do you let your kids fail? Why or why not?

Here’s a post with a list full of great quotes about failure:

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