John Maxwell (2013) starts his book with a question, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you wouldn’t fail” (p.1)? It’s certainly easier to cliff jump into a lake if you know it’s not going to hurt, the water will be warm, and there is no risk, no fear, no chance at failure, even if failure is a bit of a belly flop entrance to the water. But would it be the same experience? The same challenge?
(this water was quite cold by the way…I’m 3rd from the top)
And sometimes more is learned than won….
Now, this isn’t about life-threatening experiences, it’s about the willingness to try, to reach, to succeed and ultimately to be willing to fail along the way to succeeding or perhaps as Maxwell later asks us to consider, “what do you learn when you fail”? Stories, urban myth or otherwise are all around us of great inventors and the multiple times they failed in what they were working to develop before it worked. They didn’t fail at say inventing the lightbulb, they learned 100 or 1000 ways that the light bulb couldn’t be built and then…after all those lessons like magic, let there be light. The overnight success has more than a few hours of learning process invested that on many occasions looked nothing like a success. Somehow, we must ensure we, as the guides for our students and those who work with us in education, embrace the learning process for what it is, a collection of peaks and valleys wins, and losses that can hurt a bit and reward a bit along the way.
Along with that line of thinking, I like this podcast series I’ve come across recently and while the voices are mostly teachers and administrators I think all of us in education can identify and could probably find a story or two to share. It’s called “My Bad…” you see it in sports, the QB or point guard makes a bad pass, the receiver drops a great ball, they point to themselves and say to the others, “my bad…” I messed up, I didn’t get that right, and of course, implied in the statement is the notion that they will get it right the next time as a result. (Doesn’t always work that way but hey I did suggest there were a few 1000 my bad’s along the way to inventing the lightbulb).
The website for the My Bad podcast is here https://www.bamradionetwork.com/my-bad/ you can also find the My Bad podcast in iTunes podcast section. Some stories may not apply to you, others can hit right between the chambers of your heart. Check a couple out. More importantly, recognize the theme of the podcast; we are in the work of learning from mistakes, most of what we do is formative and “My Bad” is a part of that formative process when we mindfully work to learn and improve.
Maxwell, J. C. (2013). Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn: Life’s greatest lessons are gained from our losses. New York, NY: Center Street.