An article in today’s paper postulates that parents who try to keep their children from failing actually cause them to fail. The writer points out that it is only when kids fail that they have the opportunity to truly learn. Helping a child pick himself up when things go awry teaches him perseverance and makes him resilient. That sounds plausible to me.
As I was thinking about this some more, I came across another article:
“If you believe that your talents are inborn or fixed, then you will try to avoid failure at all costs because failure is proof of your limitation. People with a fixed mindset like to solve the same problems over and over again. It reinforces their sense of competence.”
Hey, that sounds like me. I don’t believe that all talents are inborn, but I do like solving the same problems again and again (take my job for instance). The author goes on to give the de rigeur athlete’s example:
“Michael Jordan, arguably the world’s best basketball player, has a growth mindset. Most successful people do. In high school he was cut from the basketball team but that obviously didn’t discourage him: ‘I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career, I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.’”
So it’s a growth mindset that my children and I need. He ends with one final piece of wisdom:
“In business, we have to be discriminating about when we choose to challenge ourselves. In high risk, high leverage situations, it’s better to stay within your current capability. In lower risk situations, where the consequences of failure are less, better to push the envelope. The important point is to know that pushing the envelope, that failing, is how you learn and grow and succeed. It’s your opportunity.”
“Why You Need to Fail” by Peter Bregman, Harvard Business Review