Yes, I want my children to be able to fail.
If you’ve ever watched gymnasts train, especially young gymnasts, you might have noticed the foam pit at the end of a long track. This pit is not just for safety. Sure, it ensures a soft landing so that no matter how the gymnast crashes to the ground, she is unlikely to be hurt. But it is there for another purpose as well. When they are starting out, young gymnasts will practice falling backward into the pit. It’s like a trust fall, but with no one to catch you. Because you have to lose your fear of falling backward before you can leap, twisting and turning, into the air.
I think life is the same way. To be successful, you have to be willing to fail. You have to trust that you can hop back up, dust yourself off and get back on the mat.
Embracing failure isn’t just about perserverance and pushing through the let-downs.
It isn’t just about the lessons learned through failure, which often are more valuable long term than our successes.
It is about losing the fear of failing so that we go out and try something new. Something outside our comfort zones. Something with risk attached.
The fear of failure is probably the strongest force holding people back from their potential. It’s not talent, or ambition, or ideas that stops budding entrepreneurs. It’s fear that can stop people dead in their tracks. And it’s stopped countless great businesses before they even begin. ~Business Insider
So when my children come up with crazy ideas, I try not to give them too much of my seasoned advice (even if it obviously isn’t going to work). When they fail, I tell them stories about my failures.
Like when I froze in the final round of a national speech competition and couldn’t think of one thing to say on the topic. I stood there silently for three whole minutes. And I didn’t derive any great lessons out of that. In fact, it made it impossible for me to compete in impromptu speaking the following season because I was so afraid of repeating that performance that I froze Every. Single. Time.
But you know what? My life didn’t end. Now it is just a funny story. And if you think about it, all the best stories involve our failures. When people share their failures, it makes us laugh and share our own stories. We admire success, but we connect with failure. Partly, I think, because we are afraid of it.
And I don’t want my children to be afraid of it. At least not so much that they never risk anything for their passions. I want them to step outside themselves and know that all those failures represent dreams they reached for.
So I try to create an environment like that foam pit above, where they learn to let go of some of that fear of failure so they can begin to learn to soar.
This is part of the Blogging Through the Alphabet Challenge, where I am sharing some homeschool encouragement, from A to Z! Check out what I’ve written so far!