Learn How to Fail
Chris and I went to see the documentary, A Race to Nowhere, last night. If you have kids, just go see it. It talks about our educational system and some of its shortcomings (to say the least).
In the film, there is a beautiful young woman who is a straight A student. She plays the violin and the piano. She has lots of friends. She is a success by all American standards.
When she went to middle school, she signed up for an AP course in Math so she could prepare for College. Because, what is more important when you are 13 than preparing for college?
The class was hard. And even though she was smart and had never gotten less than A’s, she brought home her first test in AP math with a big red F.
The next day, she killed herself.
Tragic doesn’t begin to describe it.
Here was a young lady who didn’t know that it’s perfectly perfect to fail. She didn’t know that we learn more by failing than by succeeding. She didn’t know that an F in on a test, in a class, or in our job is part of this journey.
She would rather die than face failing.
In school we are taught that mistakes lead to failure. Wrong answers lead to failure. Trying doesn’t matter. Trying and getting it right is all that matters.
And if you can’t try and get it right, you might as well not try at all.
But what if we taught our kids that failing matters. It’s important and you should do it whenever you get the chance. Do it and learn how to do it well.
The more you fail the more you learn.
Wait? Isn’t that what school is for? To learn?
Or has it become something quite different?
School is about succeeding now. Succeed so you can get into a good college. Suceed so you can get a job that pays you a ton of money. Succeed so you can get a big house and have a couple kids and teach them how to succeed.
We teach that succeeding is not about enjoying, its about producing. Learning isn’t fun. Its sitting in a desk for hours. And if that is hard, I have a pill that will help.
Your interests? Not really important. Unless you can succeed.
And if you fail at something, you should stop it. Drop the class. End your life.
We need a class called How to Fail Well. I could teach it. Really. I am a pretty good failure. I fail at things all the time. I give myself an F often and so do others.
And it makes me better. I learn. I grow. I thrive. My foundation is built on this process…try-fail-try-fail-try-fail-try-succeed.
But I enjoy it all.
It’s like a video game my kids play. Every time they don’t get the answer right is says, “Whoops! Try again.”
Failed Marriage? Whoops! Try Again.
Fired? Whoops! Try Again.
39th attempt to lose weight failed Whoops! Try Again
and again and again and again
Fail enough so you get good at it.
Learn how to do it.
That is the school of life, my friends.
We didn’t come here to succeed at life.
We came to live it.