Abraham Lincoln

Experiencing Failure is Key to Experience Success

Significant leaders in our nation’s history have experienced their fair share of failures before they were ever considered a success. Abraham Lincoln lost six elections/nominations before he was elected President of the United States. Thomas Edison, when asked why he didn’t just accept that the experiments for the incandescent light bulb were a failure, said, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that it won’t work.” Walt Disney went bankrupt in 1920. He created Mickey Mouse, which helped significantly. However, he came close to filing for bankruptcy for a second time in 1937, just prior to the completion of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” the movie that unequivocally changed Disney’s trajectory.

Remember the riddle? Five frogs are on a log. Four decide to jump off. How many are left? That depends on how many actually jump off. Moral of the riddle: deciding to do something and actually doing it are two different actions. The latter will accomplish the objective.

What stands in the way? Fear of failure. However, embracing it and learning from it will be the key to success.

John Maxwell explains the cycle of success:

First, test new things, ideas, concepts, activities, abilities. Second, failure occurs, misses the goal. Third, learn from the experience. What would you change? What elements are missing? What would make the next try better? Fourth, improvement. This is where we analyze how we can get better. We need to apply what we have learned. Fifth, re-enter. Get back in the game, improved.

Failure is the core ingredient to success.

As an administrator, look for opportunities for your students to have the safe environment to experience the full cycle of success, especially the opportunity to fail, learn from the failure and apply to the next time to test themselves.

Experiences are critical for social, mental, and physical development of each and every student. Providing creative venues for these experiences, both inside and outside the classroom will ensure the students in your school are benefiting from these opportunities to test, to fail, to learn, improve and get back in the game.

Taking your students on educational tours provide a structure outside the classroom that stretch your students on all levels. Challenging them in creative ways in all aspects of development, yet, with a ‘safety net’ of sorts.

Within education, we are on mission to equip our students, not just academically, to prepare students for productive citizenship, whatever that looks like for each student. We are to provide challenging experiences, both from within and outside the classroom, especially since adulthood does not exist in the classroom, unless you choose the field of academia.

As we enter the 2019-20 school year, consider how you can empower your staff to create these powerful experiences. The world is ready and waiting for this next generation of fantastic, well-rounded people, even phenomenal leaders who are not afraid to fail.