Failure is the tuition you pay for success.
I recently had the pleasure of attending our 6th to 7th grade parent transition meeting. The format is a panel of “been-there/done-that” parents that give information to parents who are making the transition for the first time. This is a great forum that we have used for several years and is very informative for our parents. At the meeting one of the panel members stressed the importance of allowing your child to fail and take risks while at the junior high school. The parent commented that it is best to “make your mistakes before it counts on your high school transcript.”
This concept got me thinking about the frequency of failure, and I started to do a little (very little) research. What I found was that those with the greatest success also were those with the greatest failure. Below is a quick rundown of some of the biggest success/failures in the sports world.
- Kobe Bryant (NBA) – Most missed shots in the NBA/most points in a single game
- Brett Favre (NFL) – Third most yards gained in history/most passes intercepted
- Wayne Gretzky (NHL) – Most goal attempts/most career goals
- Reggie Jackson (MLB) – Member of the 500 homerun club/record for most strikeouts (being struck out).
The names above are among some of the most successful athletes in their respective sports; however, they also hold some of the dubious records in sports. The amazing thing is their accomplishments wouldn’t have been possible without their failures.
This same relationship between success and failure is true for our kids as well. Adolescents must experience failure. As a school we work to encourage kids to take appropriate risks. We do this by offering a wide variety of school activities. Additionally, our activity sponsors actively recruit kids to join these activities, pushing them outside their comfort zone. In class our teachers create lessons that have just the right balance of challenge and success which requires kids to have to think differently and really work to get answers. When our students miss the mark, our staff is there to pick them up and encourage them to try again. As parents we should be doing the same thing. Actively encouraging our kids to participate in activities that are new and scary. When we look at what our kids are doing we should be saying to ourselves, “I don’t think I could do that when I was 13!” We become better because of our failures. What is most important is that we help our kids to see the learning that can take place when they fail.
Watching our kids fail is excruciating; however, it is important to remember that today’s 13 year old failure is tomorrow’s 35 year old success.