In the last 25 years or so, we began to overprotect our children from essential life experiences such as failure, pain and coming in second place. We decided that medication, bandages and participation trophies would heal all wounds or even prevent the wounds from occurring. The bar was lowered and failure became something to avoid at all costs.
But what if failing is actually a good thing? What if failing offers perseverance and resiliency?
After all, we need to experience failure, so that we can learn how to adequately cope when things go wrong. And things will go wrong. Not every one will like you. You are going to have a difficult coworker/boss/teacher/mother-in-law. You aren’t going to get the job every single time. And you have to be able to handle the loss with out melting down or turning into a puddle of anxiety.
When children don’t learn how to cope, minor issues become insurmountable and getting a “C” on a report card feels like the end of the world. Without effective failure management, kids are going out into the world defenseless and unable to function effectively. It’s like sending a soldier to war with a spoon.
Sooooo, how do we start accepting failure as a natural part of life that can actually be a good thing? Read on…
First – it is imperative that people stop measuring their value and worth upon perceived successes or perceived failures. Seriously, stop it. Your value and worth is a given – if you are alive today, you have value and worth. Period. What you do with that value and worth is up to you, but it is not based on the number of trophies, ribbons and “atta boy’s” you received while growing up. And I know this because there is a whole generation of young people that received an arm full of trophies and they are troubled and anxious and depressed.
Second – Fail. And then fail again. Find ease in your failures because without them, you wouldn’t know success. You don’t have to be the best; in fact it is rare that you will ever be the best. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that you pick yourself back up and try again. And again. And, yet again.
Third – Ask for help. Asking for help is a way to grow and learn from others; it is not a sign of weakness. Nobody has gotten to where they are today by themselves. They had teachers, mentors, parents and friends who have helped them along the way.
Fourth – View your failures as inspiration. Wait, what? For real. Failures are only as bad as the judgement we place on them. So stop judging them as wrong, bad or a reflection on you as a person. When you see failure not as a moral shortcoming, but as a learning experience to a better and perhaps more fulfilling way to be, failure then becomes an inspiration.
If you are a parent, you can help foster resiliency in your children. Don’t fix the problem and don’t save them from their feelings. Remind them that failure is a part of life and that they are not loved less because of it. And then go do something fun.