I had a conversation this evening with my fiancee’s 12-year old while on our drive home. We talked about school and we talked about Doctor Who (our household’s latest obsession). He’s the creative sort that likes to imagine and create, and he’s pretty sharp. As a trainer at heart, I relish “teaching moments,” so I posed the question:
“Why is failure a good thing?”
Without missing a beat came his answer:
“Because that’s how you know where you have to improve and do better.”
My mind began to immediately race. Was this something I had shared with him at a previous time, or was this wisdom he picked up elsewhere. I decided to set my ego aside and bask in the fact that this young kid had grasped the concept that has escaped most adults.
We tend to believe that failure is both fatal and final; that it is something to be feared and is the proof of flaws within ourselves. The reality is that nothing could be further from the truth. Failure is the world’s built-in mechanism to tell us that something didn’t go right. The problem for most is that we tend to stop the movie there and shut it off, rather than to rewind and review what went wrong and the to apply critical thinking into what adjustments can be made so that next time it’ll go right.
So as we continued down the road, I pointed out the light bulbs on the buildings and street lights around us. I asked the boy if he knew how many times it took Edison to invent the light bulb.
“About one thousand.” He, at least, knew how the story went.
So I ask you this: which will you do when confronted with the notion that something didn’t go as planned. Will you simply stop the story, or will you rewind and review?
QUESTION: How do you face failure and setbacks? What could you do differently or better? Please reply in a comment below.