Fail Safe

http://bobcatsblog.edublogs.org/files/2013/12/failure_success-1s1yekp.jpgI've blogged before about the importance of failure - in parenting and in life - but I wanted to go down this route yet again because I think it's just such an important concept.  Plus there's been a lot of positive buzz lately on Megan McArdle's new book, "The Up Side of Down,"which covers this very topic.

http://www.mediawebapps.com/upload/1386778958.jpgIn a recent blog post, McArdle laments that even high-schoolers from upper-middle-class families feel they have to play it safe in order to secure a coveted place at an elite Ivy League university.  "If you can't afford to try something new in 10th grade, when can you?"  

This fear of failure is very, very problematic.  Kids who don't learn how to fail become adults who are either afraid of failing (and therefore afraid of everything), constantly getting their self-esteem hammered (since failure must mean worthlessness), or insufferable jerks (never stretching = never failing = I must be awesome = big head), or all three at the same time.  We stretch ourselves the most in good ways when we try something new, gaining new perspectives, new relationships, and new empathy in the process.  Economies are healthiest when people swing for the fences and have ample opportunity to recover from mistakes, unforeseen disasters, and bad luck.  And, from a Christian perspective, falling on your face is a good thing to do every once in a while, to remind us that our success in ministry and our very intrinsic value at the core comes from an unshakeable external source rather than our own flighty and flawed performance. 

However you define success, failure must be part of it.  Not failing for failure's sake.  Rather, accepting that, apart from maybe Mozart, no one can get to brilliance without stumbling along the way.  And, once that realization sets in, it matters less than we can do something good and more that we can figure out how to make the best of when we do something not so good.  It matters for being a successful parent, person, and professional.  And it matters for having a right relationship with your God and Creator.

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