Thursday, September 30, 2010

Failure Focus

There is a trend among parents and educators to lavish praise on children for every little thing. Everybody wins! The winning team gets trophies but the losing team does too. Just showing up is often all that is required to get a certificate or ribbon. No one wants to leave any child behind or make them feel left out.

The only problem is when everybody wins, everybody loses.

Arguably, we learn more from failure than we do from success. Failure creates the opportunity to acknowledge and learn from mistakes – allowing time for reassessment and figuring out what went wrong.

Without failure, a dangerous sense of entitlement and an unrealistic worldview is created. People feel they deserve to win whether or not they put in the effort, if just showing up is good enough then why do more? And it’s not fair for those who do put in the extra effort to be lumped in with those who do just enough to get by. By rewarding everyone, we penalize those who truly excel.

A world where everybody wins would be nice but it’s not reality, not even close. You don’t get every job you apply for. The person you love doesn’t always love you back. And, many of us never earn what we feel we are worth. That’s not failure, that’s life. If you aren’t prepared to deal with the failures, roadblocks and obstacles then you really aren’t prepared for this life.

Failure teaches resilience. It teaches us to get back up and try again. You don’t learn the hard lessons when you move from success to success. You learn them when you go from success to failure and then back to success. Learning how to fail elegantly (without name-calling or whining) and smartly (learning what you can from the experience) ensures that a single defeat won’t become a final defeat.

Finally, knowing the agony of defeat, makes the sweet taste of success that much sweeter!


Debbie's L'Bri said...

I totally agree. My kids do not like it when the get prizes at the county fair when they know that someone elses work was better then theirs.

Lose the Excuses said...

That's interesting Debbie! Even kids know fair is fair. :)