An indomitable force shaping the narrative of human existence, failure stands as a testament to our capacity for growth, resilience, and transformation. While society tends to glorify our successes, it is within our failures that we find true learning and self-discovery. Failure, in all its complexity, demands our attention and introspection—it is from within the shadows of our shortcomings that the seeds of triumph are sown.
Michael Jordan, arguably the best basketball player who has ever lived, has always embraced the growth mindset. Most successful people do. In high school, being cut from the basketball team served as motivation for Jordan, who has said, “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.”
Remember learning to ride a bike? If we fell, we just got up and tried again. Far worse than failure is being held hostage by the fear of failure. If this vicious cycle starts, if we stop taking risks, if we become less inclined to stretch ourselves, if we internalize the identity of a victim, these defeatist energies derail us from dominion over our own lives. Since people tend to view us as we view ourselves—erroneous self-doubt may influence how others perceive us—reinforcing a life of stunted growth.
Be an Example
Children constantly learn from their father’s example. The way we respond to loss will influence how they will be inclined to respond in similar situations. In our win-at-all-costs world, we’re vulnerable to the tyranny of unreasonable expectations we set for ourselves. Especially in the presence of our children, let’s manage stress and disappointment with self-respect and maturity. By having a healthy attitude towards failure and adversity, we teach children how to manage themselves when things don’t go their way.
Share Our Experience with Failure
Failure is part of the human condition. By sharing stories about our failures, we can help children learn to accept failure more gracefully, instilling in them that each failure is an opportunity to learn. Then, when we try again, we can do so more intelligently.
It’s OK to Fail
Failure isn’t some Big Bad Wolf—it is just a part of life. While it is important to teach children to do their very best, focus on effort, not ability. Don’t criticize failure. Don’t compare their failure with another child’s success. When children share their feelings, listen without prejudice. If tough feedback is warranted, consider how our words of wisdom might be received so we can respectfully deliver the most impactful possible message. Rather than judging them for failure, share unconditional support.
Many extremely successful people across history have failed miserably—and repeatedly. With faith and conviction, many of these same people later rose to glory. Every failure is accompanied by a learning lesson—such as where we must stretch ourselves if we want to rise above. When children fail, celebrate them in the lesson learned and support them in their resilience.
Know the Difference Between “I failed” and “I am a failure.”
By choosing not to rise after a defeat, a small piece of us inside can break. Fathers should help children understand that “I failed,” is temporary and totally okay. When children fail, don’t allow them to say, “I’m a failure.” Remove any messaging that pollutes self-confidence with self-doubt. Be mindful of word choice; the things we say about ourselves tend to become our reality.
Henry Ford said, “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” Failure isn’t a step backward; it’s learning about an obstacle to be overcome. When children come up short, and fathers still praise hard work and effort, we encourage them to repurpose lessons learned as inspiration for next time.
“Jeremiah, say to the people, ‘This is what the Lord says: “When people fall down, don’t they get up again? When they discover they’re on the wrong road, don’t they turn back?” —Jeremiah 8:4 NLT
Unique in every respect, this book is full of pop-ups, lift-the-flaps, tears, holes, overlays, bends, and smudges, each demonstrating how blunders can become wonders. When you think you have made a mistake, think of it as an opportunity to make something beautiful!
Humpty Dumpty is, an avid bird watcher whose favorite place to be is high up on the city wall―that is, until after his famous fall. Now terrified of heights, Humpty can longer do many of the things he loves most. Will he summon the courage to face his fear?
Any setback, whether professional or personal, can be turned into a step forward when you possess the right tools to turn a loss into a gain.
A story for anyone who has ever had a problem that they wished would go away. It’s a story to inspire you to look closely at that problem and to find out why it’s here. Because you might discover something amazing about your problem… and yourself.
Some people tend to achieve anything they want while others struggle. The difference between average and achieving is a person’s perception of and response to failure.
The Obstacle is the Way has become a cult classic, beloved by men and women around the world who apply its wisdom to become more successful at whatever they do.
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