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The Benefits of Failure

The Oxford dictionary defines failure as “the lack of success”. Succinct, to the point and very unemotional, I would say.

So how come many of us define failure as the loss of honour, dignity, and hope and allow it to reduce us to feeling useless? We have an incomplete understanding of failure when we end up defining ourselves by our failures and letting them make us feel like gigantic losers. Crazy hey?!

Take a moment and watch J. K. Rowling speaking about failure.

Failure is a good thing as it yields many benefits which can come no other way. Success comes through failure, it’s just that we don’t often hear about that side of the success story! Failure is inevitable in ourselves and our learners, but it is not the end of the story.

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill

So, approach failure with a positive attitude and you will find that it can be the catalyst to:

1. Clarity

It is the fastest way to a reality check! Failure will question whether all is not as it seems and if there is something else going on that needs investigation. It also causes us to see things more clearly and accurately and learn the valuable difference between a good idea and a bad idea. Failure answers that all-important question: what went wrong and how can I improve? This makes the world a better place, our classrooms a happier environment, and puts us and our learners on the road to success.

2. Growth

Failure has great potential to help us grow. When we accept failure as a reflection of our work and not ourselves, we can more easily bounce back. When we have tried something and not succeeded, we must adapt and change. This gets the creative juices flowing and many innovations have been borne out of total failure. We increase in resilience, strength, and maturity.

3. Freedom

When the fear of failure is removed because we have failed, we enter a new arena of courage and productivity. We realise that failing is not the end of the world but the foundation for something new and better. It frees us from thinking or keeping up the appearance that we are perfect and have it all together. We all fail, so let us own our mistakes, admit them, and celebrate them. This is a sure recipe to take the sting out of our mistakes and prevent us from retreating to a dark hole with a box of tissues!

Don’t let failure bring you down; instead use it as a springboard for something more wonderful.

And lastly please remember:

“If at first you don’t succeed, then skydiving definitely isn’t for you.” – Steven Wright

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