What Failure Can Teach Us

Stumbling and falling is a way to reach dreams. Fear of failure is a way to avoid them.

Posted in , Feb 13, 2017

What failure can teach us.

The greatest achievements were at first and for a time dreams. The oak sleeps in the acorn. –James Allen, author

Put aside your fear of failure and replace it with effort towards your goals.


I saw the quotes above in my Daily Scripture & Reflection newsletter from OurPrayer the other day, and they got me thinking about failure and what it can teach us.

You don’t have to look far to find information about failure in parenting literature and in the field of education. In a society where a straight path to success has been glorified, a great deal of education on the benefits of failure is needed.

How do we gauge failure? Certainly an F in a course or on a test is a clear indicator of a grade failure. But what if the student put in considerable effort (though clearly not enough in the eyes of the teacher) and still came away with an F? It is what the student does with that grade moving forward that matters.

For example, the student can work more closely with the teacher, develop different study strategies, identify goals. Not being defined by the grade, but understanding where the wheels fell off the proverbial bus can set the tone for progress.

Read More: Positive Thinking Tips from Norman Vincent Peale

As parents, the idea of our kids failing is a touchy one. If we fear failure, it's possible that we may instill that fear in our children, inhibiting them from trying new things.

Society’s notion that failure means being less than perfect rings powerfully for some. Working with our kids on their goals and the varied paths to achieve them, opens up the reality that failure, risk and adaptation will be a part of the journey to their success—success that’s defined by them, their interests, skill sets and joys.

As parents, family members, educators, business leaders and coaches, we can be more open to taking risks and risking failure in pursuit of our goals, and we can encourage those we parent, teach, lead and coach to do the same.

Part of believing in our goals means accepting that there will be slip-ups and failures along the way. It is what we do with them that will impact the journey and the reaching of those goals.

I know that I have dreams yet untapped and perhaps they are so because I fear the journey and the possibility of failure. My new goal is to pay more attention to this possibility and to look at failure as feedback on the path leading towards these dreams.

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Tags: Success,Goals
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