Tuesday, November 08, 2016

What We Learn Through Failing

The day I failed my driver's test was a huge wake-up call for me. I was used to succeeding in all that I did; to do my best and have it not be enough was something I couldn't handle. I did not have skills or perspective in place to deal with the failure and disappointment and my visceral response surprised me. My self-esteem took a huge tumble. Sure, I was 16 which means there are wild emotions already but this was so out of the norm for me that I wish I had experienced failure earlier – if not going through it, at least considered or taught how to approach it.

What we learn through failing

 Nowadays I have minor fails daily in parenting (I yell), in marriage (I don't ask about his day), in eating healthy (hello, Halloween candy!). When we think of failure, it has such a negative connotation, when really all it really is is a lack of success. Is that really bad? You could be close.  You could be on your way. You could use this to shift direction. Hopefully you can inquire or educate or reflect and approach it differently the next time.

Henry Ford said "The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing".

Let me tell you that I learned in grade ten that I will never give myself a haircut again – especially if it involved bangs. Joking aside, I know that I can be persistent and successful. I can thoughtfully alter my goals and determine what I consider success to be at that time.

My kids have not experienced a lot of failure yet but we have dealt with it in swimming lessons and in sports. I think it's important for them to keep perspective throughout their struggles because life doesn't get easier. It's good for them to know that everyone needs to work on something–even mom and dad. Struggles and a lack of success help us decide what we really enjoy, where we want to invest our time, and what we want to get better at. It challenges us to be persistent and also assess our goals through self-reflection.

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." –Winston Churchill 

If you are feeling defeated by a recent failure, I would ask you to consider whether you're keeping it in perspective; in the grand scheme of things, how big is it really? Are you remembering your successes? Can you have a re-do? If so, you can do it. Adjust, learn and be courageous. Oh, and in regards to my driving test I passed the next time around; I did need a little more practice with parallel parking which has only prepared me for having to parallel park every single day now.

Is there a failure in your childhood that stands out to you? Or maybe something more recently? How did you handle it?


What we learn from our failure


  1. Ha ha - I failed my driving test the first time too and I was so devastated and embarrassed!

    1. Yes! Especially since all my friends knew I was going for it. Gary failed too. #notalone ;)

  2. I failed the test to get my "L". I was so confident that driving and the rules of the road were so easy that I didn't even read the book. Ouch. Lesson learned the hard way! I didn't even think twice the next time around and read the book :).

    1. This is so interesting to me! I feel like you are a "rule follower" so I'm surprised you skipped reading :) Lesson learned is right!

  3. I failed my driver's test too! Very humbling. And also watching The Crown :)

  4. Anonymous1:37 PM

    This has been an extremely helpful resource for me... Fear of failure is a big one!



  5. I have little failures every day too, but I also have little victories and try to focus on those instead. I do believe every failure is an invitation to self-reflection. How can I do things better or differently?