What if failure is really a gift?

Your child is up at bat and strikes out.  She throws down the bat and stomps off the field,  tears in her eyes.

While doing his homework, your child can’t figure out the answer to a math problem. He crumples up his entire paper in frustration and slams the book closed.  Not a chance of starting over tonight.

Educators today often refer to encouraging a growth mindset in children.  What does this mean?  Given the fast pace of the world that we live in it is critical that children learn to use critical thinking and problem solving as a way of life.  Gone are the days when reading, writing and ‘rithmetic were the staples of a child’s education curriculum. Today we are concerned with not only what children learn but how they learn and how they can apply that ability to challenges they will face in everyday life.

Two Ways to Develop a Growth Mindset

Begin by re-framing the idea of imperfection and failure.  In the past we were all taught to strive for perfection.  Practice makes perfect was the motto.  However, focusing on striving for perfection can create an environment where imperfection and failure is not tolerated or is avoided.  Instead, re-frame imperfection as a part of the unique person that we all are.  

 In a previous post, I wrote about the benefits of embracing our limitations and how something beautiful can come from that.  In her book, The Gift of Imperfection,  Brene Brown shares research that shows when we acknowledge our imperfections and actually consider them the building blocks that shape us and make us who we are, then we develop into a more joyful and resilient person.

Sean Stevenson, motivational speaker, was born with osteogenesis imperfecta not expected to live past birth.  He identifies accepting his disability as a gift rather than a burden a being a turning point in his life. It was this decision that has shaped his life as a successful motivational speaker and teacher.  In a growth mindset, challenges become opportunities for self-improvement.

The second way to develop a growth mindset is to actually welcome all opportunities to learn and grow especially those where there is the risk of failure.  We learn more from our failures than we ever do from our successes.  Of course this is hard to accept when we are in the midst of a failing experience but think back over your own history.  Aren’t there important lessons that you have learned from failure, even if it was to try a different path?  Taking imperfect action and accepting that failure is often a consequence of taking risks,can be a gift, but it takes a proactive mindset to learn and grow from the benefits of each.  

Related Posts:

What if You Embrace the Difficulty?

Why Failing First Leads to Success

4 Secret Skills Kids Need Today

Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning

Wyatt the Wonder Dog didn’t make it on the All Star baseball team and he feels like a loser.  All  his friends will be playing baseball this summer, while he and his pesky sister, Callie, visit grandparents at the beach.  How Wyatt learns to handle disappointment and failure will be an important lesson for the future.  Will he give up trying new things?  Will he have the confidence to try again?  Are there some things that take more practice and persistence to learn than others? Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns About Winning
Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Winning (Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books) (Volume 5)