Let them fail often
Updated: Nov 3, 2019
"Plowing through one's own problems and pushing through frustration are valuable life skills which help kids grow into resilient adults. It can be difficult for parents to let offspring pave their own way."
-Christina DesMarais, Inc.com
In the movie Batman Begins, Alfred Pennyworth reminds Bruce about a very important lesson that his dad taught him. As a young child, Bruce fell into a dry well and was attacked by a swarm of bats. Bruce's dad asked, "Why do we fall?" his dad answered his own question with, "so we can learn to pick ourselves up." This is a very important lesson that all children should learn. Children have to know that it is okay to fail. Our "True Character" is built through the obstacles we face and how we respond to our successes and failures.
As a parent, teacher, and leader we have to allow those in our charge space and freedom to explore their capabilities so they can stretch pass their personal mental and physical limits to grab hold of their REAL potential. As a teacher when a student is FINALLY able to see the GREATNESS that is inside of him/herself those are the moments that remind us of WHY we do what we do.
For example, in my classroom, I like to share with my students what their final assignment will be so they are mentally prepared for what is to come. Those of us in education know this as "keeping the end in mind through backwards design." I remember it like it was yesterday. I shared with my students the writing prompt that they would have to write a 3-5 page essay about and the class became as silent as a graveyard.
One brave student, Henry P., could not hold his fear inside. Henry raised a quiet hand and said, "Mr. Wesley, I cannot do that! That is too hard." I already knew that this assignment was too difficult, but what Henry didn't know is that I wanted them to STRUGGLE, not because I wanted them to fail, but because I wanted them to realize the potential that is inside of them. I said to Henry, "You are 100% correct! Yes, today you cannot write this essay. But in the next 2 weeks, I will give you every single tool you need to write this paper and prepare you for every other essay you will need to write in your life."
Henry made an A- on his essay, and he could not have been more proud. When the class received their essays back I reminded the class of how they thought this paper would be impossible. Yes, they struggled and failed with concepts along the way, but they did not give up.
If you are not giving your students, children, or even your employees opportunities to FAIL, STRUGGLE, or GET FRUSTRATED then you are doing them a disservice. It is our job as leaders to give them the tools they need to reach their goals and if they fall we will be by their side to cheer them on as they learn to pick themselves up!
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