The Value of Failure

We’ve all done it. Some more than others of course. But it is part of the learning curve. Some successes were only possible because of the failure that preceded it. So why are we so afraid of it?

Nowadays it seems we don’t want to teach our children the value of failure. There’s a lovely story I refer to quite often about an older man taking his grandchild to a skating rink for the first time.  The man holds the young boy’s hands to get him on the ice and then throws his own arms into the air and says “fall down”. Of course, little boy does. The grandfather repeats this a few more times until the boy asks his grandfather ‘why?”. His reply surprised me when I first heard it: “It is to teach you not to be afraid to fall. You’ve already done it.”  Brilliant!

We fear what we do not know.  Our children need to understand that failure is something we all need to experience. If they don’t learn to deal with it when they are young, it can be devastating as an adult. Our lives are full of adversity. Along with failure and disappointment and confusion and…. It is also full of wonder and beauty and joy. There is a balance between the two that can be difficult to comprehend if you’re not exposed to it as a child.  I learned failure when I was young. My parents allowed me to fail, they didn’t shield me from it. But they were always there in the aftermath. That is good parenting.

I see too many young adults now who exhibit feelings of empowerment and entitlement. When someone disagrees with them, they are crushed and unable to handle it. They have lived charmed lives.  We all want what is best for our progeny. We want them to know only joy and success. But a false sense of security can before more damaging than the truth.

We inoculate our children against diseases that we know could be so incredibly harmful if they contracted them as adults. So why aren’t we doing the same thing with life. And how exactly do you measure success? Is it by how much money you have earned or awards you have received, or perhaps by the number people you have touched positively? I know what I use.

 

29 thoughts on “The Value of Failure

  1. oldmainer

    When I was a kid, I expected to fall down, just like I expected my pant leg to get caught in my bicycle chain. It was just a part of my day. Scraps and cuts were just that. They healed and often times, as a result, I learned not to do again whatever it was I did.

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  2. Murphy's Law

    I think we learn far more from our failures than we do from our successes. We tend to take the successes for granted, whereas the failures make us sit up and take notice.

    Well written commentary my friend. Very insightful.
    🐾Ginger 🐾

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  3. cheryl

    There is an epidemic of wanting to only say, be, do, present, and have ‘positive’ things around or within their children’s lives. Technology, the social media presence, the advertising world that promises if you want it you can have it, all work together to distract young people from the harsh realities of life. Their parents don’t want to disappoint or reveal the facts of life to them for fear they won’t like them or they might be inconvenienced by a hard fact. Yet, teen suicide rates are up, girls especially are not being taught respect for their peers and have become worse bullies than boys were when I was young, and the authority within the school system happily has its hands tied to intervene by the fear of litigation. No one does anything. In my opinion, that is apathy at its worst.

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  4. Dan Antion

    I have learned so much from the things I have tried to do and failed, and from failures that I’ve managed to recover from. We have to be resilient, and if you never fall, you never learn how to bounce back. Pin your “Participant” ribbon on the wall – us losers will throw darts at it.

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  5. Mark Lanesbury

    We are afraid because we are not game to look at ourselves, thinking based on our fears.
    But as you have so beautifully said, it is by those failures that we realise we are magnificent, just the way we are. A process of loving ourselves.
    Great post Pam 😀 ❤️ 🙏🏽

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  6. heatherjo

    So true! We can’t shield our children from the harsh realities of life. Failing is a big part of the process of success. The most famous inventors, writers, researchers, scientist, directors, actors, etc. have all received No’s before every achieving a Yes. The sooner children realize this the sooner than can develop the resolve needed to succeed in this world.

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