Why we teach our children not to fear failure

Adventures do by definition involve risk, but not having an adventure means missing out on life – a far greater risk.

Elizabeth Day

We are hopeful that the concept of ‘failure’ is sailing towards a semantic drift. Commonly perceived as a negative experience, the act of failure is in fact fertile soil for some of our most positive and productive learnings through life. And therefore, we encourage our pupils to fail – or rather, try without fear of the failure that may (or may not) ensue.

UK journalist Elizabeth Day has a hugely successful book and podcast series that actively embraces the experience of failure. In “How to Fail”, Day confronts the speedbumps that she and various well-known personas have faced on their journeys and the necessary part these failures play in ultimate success. Failure is something we should all be talking about – and even celebrating.

What does it mean to fail? It means you have tried, but you perhaps haven’t triumphed in the way you had expected or hoped. The negative feelings around failure can feel big and all-consuming, but they are only temporary. It is important not to disregard these feelings because they are real and feeling them indicates the passion to succeed. So instead, remember that discomfort is the price of growth. Step outside your comfort zone and you will reap rewards. You will take bigger strides. You will feel more courageous. You will become more resilient. You will be able to reflect and learn and progress.

With everything children do or dream of doing in life, we should be teaching them to accept there is a very real chance of failure – and to know that if they do fail, they can celebrate that they were courageous enough to give it a go. Failing repeatedly is actually one of the fastest routes to success; it offers up valuable information. Try, fail, feel, reflect, learn, progress. The likes of Walt Disney, JK Rowling and Steve Jobs are ambassadors for this.

It is our goal to teach children that the act of failing doesn’t mean you yourself are a failure. Failure is part of growth and should be wrapped up with success! There is only one way to ‘fail’ in its un-ameliorated meaning – and that is to fail to try at all.

Rugby School Thailand is a co-educational boarding and day school for 2-18 year-olds. It is one of the fastest-growing boarding schools in Asia. To find out more about Rugby School Thailand, click here.

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