Success feels good. Whether it’s grades, relationships, jobs, accomplishments or any other part of our lives, we want to succeed. And it’s important – being successful makes us more competent and confident in our abilities, and it pushes us forward to achieve more.
But what happens when we fail?
Let’s face it – no one likes to fail. Even when things go wrong and we say we don’t care, most of us still do. And if we value success at all, then our own standards of achievement will inevitably trickle down to our kids. We want them to do well. We look forward to sharing our children’s successes. In many ways, our kids are us. We want the best (and better than the best!) for them. So when our kids fail, it’s not the easiest thing to deal with. We worry. We question. We get angry. We often look to blame ourselves. But what we sometimes forget to do is take a good look at failure and what it really means.
“Failure is disappointing, yes, but it’s not the end of the world. And our kids need to know that. It’s an opportunity to grow, learn and use our experience to make life better.”
These days, a lot of kids seem to fear failure. Students are anxious, and the academic stakes are high in our schools. The pressure to succeed is felt from increasingly younger grades. Are we doing a good job of letting our kids know that failure is something they can deal with? The next time your child struggles, consider sharing the following truths about failure.
- You’re in Good Company – everybody fails. It’s that simple. We’re human, we’re imperfect, and we fail. From the greatest minds to the most talented athletes to the most successful business person to the most popular kid in class. It happens, and it’s o.k. because we can learn from our mistakes and set our minds to a better result next time.
- Failure Makes You Stronger – yep. It’s true. It may feel bad, but it brings us a new strength and resolve to move on. If we don’t give up, if we press on, if we meet the challenge head-on, chances are that next time, we will do better. Failure breeds resilience and mental toughness. It helps us stand up after we’ve been knocked down.
- Failure Makes You Think – and wonder, and reconsider, and learn, and hopefully find a new and improved way of doing things. Did you ever think that not accomplishing something could actually lead to a new strategy, idea or innovation? It’s true! Bubble wrap, pacemakers, Nintendo and Wheaties cereal are just a few great inventions came from failed first attempts!
- You are Not a Failure – You are not a failure! Sometimes when things don’t go exactly as planned, we personalize the result. But it’s not who we are – it’s the outcome of one or a few events that didn’t go the way we hoped or expected. Setbacks and failures should not define who you are. A failure is an event – not a person!
- Risking Mistakes is a Key Part of Success – it’s not really about whether you fail or not, it’s about how you respond to failure. The most important part? Don’t give up! Believe in yourself, and have the courage to try again. You will be amazed at how far you can go!
How we look at failure impacts how our kids view their own successes and mistakes. It pays to remember that every failure can be turned into a stepping stone to success. Our challenges and setbacks are an opportunity to dig deeper, to build resilience, to revise and reconsider, and to have the confidence to try again.