Failure, missing the mark, or lack of success is not celebrated like its opponent – success. Acts of success are elaborately shared, sometimes even with strangers. They are posted all over social media, on billboards, on lawn signs, even made into commercial advertisements. Failure, its nemesis, on the other hand is discreetly pushed to the back of the closet like Great Aunt Vera’s hand-sewn pair of corduroy pants. Failure is not usually discussed, in fact, it’s often dismissed in conversation like the so-called black sheep of the family. (A phrase I’m not a fan of)
It’s time that failure gets a fair shake. Failure is just as important as success. Honestly, I believe failure, like Great Aunt Vera’s hand-sewn corduroy pants is more important. Failure is sound proof that progress is taking place. Failure is evidence that a process is emerging in the life of an individual or system. Society often leads us into thinking that failure is something to hang our heads about. This is an idea that I seek to eradicate.
Research from Business Insider in 2015 stated that failure or nearly winning can make you more motivated. A study from the University of Colorado found that the knowledge gained from success was often fleeting, while knowledge from failure stuck around for years. (Madsen, Peter; Desai, Vinit 2010)
I propose we choose to look at failure from a different vantage point. Let’s view failure as brief points of interest on a map heading to your favorite destination. With each stop, we gather new information about our current location and become more eager to reach our destination. The brief stops may cause our hearts to pound with uncertainty and our palms to sweat profusely. The uncertainty will cause our curiosity to become heightened, and we will begin to think more critically. The pit stops along the way will cause the neurons in our brains to fire and form new connections and make new discoveries. They may even cause us to move a little faster or work a bit harder to reach our destination. Each of those experiences has the potential to leave us with positive reflections as we journey onward to the highly sought-after destination – success.
My teenage son had to pass a competency exam prior to completing a dual enrollment course. He was instructed that he could start testing after the Thanksgiving break, but he had pass prior to a determined date in December. He took the exam and did not pass. He was given the exam again, but he failed at it again. This cycle occurred three more times, as the final date to test quickly approached. On his sixth and final attempt, the deadline date, he finally passed the exam.
Throughout that time, our family discussed failure and why it’s important. My son, displayed mighty amounts of courage as he studied, tutored, failed, and shared his unfortunate results with us. It was heartbreaking to see him try again and again, but it was more gratifying to see him try again and again. With each attempt, he became stronger as if he had gathered some new knowledge that would assist him on the next try. See, after the third or fourth attempt, he immediately stated, “I failed again, but I have a tutoring session set up already, and I’m trying again.” That was a demonstration of the process and personal reward associated with failure. Through that period of my son’s life, something evolved within him that I couldn’t teach. He learned something about himself, that he may not have known existed. My son failed both miserably and beautifully, and I am a proud mommy because of it.
Using our new lenses, let’s view failure as points of interest, all along the adventurous path of success.
This feature was submitted by Tamara Bogan
From Virginia, to Texas, to South Korea and many counties in Georgia, Tamara Bogan has completed 17 successful years in the educational arena. Her career includes middle school teacher, reading specialist, and high school counselor. In addition to school counseling, Tamara is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Georgia who owns Seat of Resilience Consulting and Counseling in Ludowici, GA. She believes that parents have their children’s best interest at heart, but there are times when additional tools are necessary. Tamara is happily married to retired Sgt. Andrew Bogan, and they enjoy parenting 4 amazing teenagers.