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Fail Well

Have you failed lately? Rather than shuddering at such a question, it may be time to rethink the role and value of failure in life.

At Wimbledon school for girls in the UK, they are having Failure Week, a program intended to boost the resilience and courage of their students.

Headmistress Heather Hanbury says that the program’s emphasis will be “on the value of having a go, rather than playing it safe and perhaps achieving less.”

When we are kids, the socialization process teaches us that failure is bad and to be avoided. When you get bad grades in school, for example, you sweated the eventual showdown with your parents. Our culture says “Failure is not an option,” which pretty strongly slams the door on failure.

At the same time, there has been another school of thought on failure, reflected in such thoughts as these:

Thomas Edison: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”

This is what Heather Hanbury is building on with her Failure Week program. She says:

“The girls need to learn how to fail well – and how to get over it and cope with it. Fear of failing can be really crippling and stop the girls doing things they really want to do. The pupils are hugely successful but can sometimes overreact to failure even though it can sometimes be enormously beneficial to them. We want them to be brave – to have courage in the classroom.”

And in their lives. Knowing that fear of failure can hold them back, Heather Hanbury wants to equip her students with a healthier outlook.

Don’t play it safe. Have a go!

Posted by Terrence Seamon on Monday February 6, 2012

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