Failure: A Starting Point for Greatness

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, failure is defined as “omission of occurrence or performance” and the “lack of success.” Failure happens when you don’t achieve a desired outcome. Failure is associated with negative words and connotations such as defeat, unsuccessful, ineffectiveness, and set backs. Why does failure have these negative views and how can we change this?

Everyone is subjected to failing and struggling, but it’s how you handle it that makes all the difference. Do you reflect upon what has happened to create the outcome? Do you learn from your mistakes? Do you use your set back as an opportunity for growth? Do you get up and try again?

Tonight, I participated in #mnlead chat on twitter, where an incredible group of educators came together to discuss failure. It was an excellent talk, and from it I learned that educators do believe in the power of failure for growth and learning. Below is a summary of our discussion:

Question #1: What is the value of failure?

Question #2: How can we encourage failure as a good thing and a part of the learning process?

Question #3: What role does failure play in furthering mindset shifts in education?

Question #4: How do you encourage that failure is okay?

Question #5: How do failures in society, business and government affect change in your school/district?

Question #6: What does ‘fail forward’ actually mean?

As educators we need to embrace moments of failure, model, and discuss them with our students and colleagues. We need to show people that it is okay to make mistakes, and look at these as opportunities for learning and growth. We need to encourage others to share their failures, reflect on them, and find ways to improve. We have to develop an understanding of the process and how to persevere. How can you change the negative mindset around failure and adapt a positive outlook to encourage your students to use failure as a starting point for greatness?


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