Failing Successfully Part II

As a teacher, coach, and now an administrator I have witnessed student disappointment with failure.  Of course it is natural to be disappointed with failure. The typical mindset is we prepared, studied, collaborated, practiced, all in vain when we fall short.  My questions regarding a momentary lack of success are: Do I hold myself accountable for this temporary lack of success? Did I actually prepare adequately? and, Was my preparation all in vain?

It is easy to pass the buck. Throughout our daily routine there are always a number of obstacles that may prevent us from accomplishing our daily goals and tasks.  The temptation is always strong to point to these obstacles and lay the blame on them for our failure. In order to move on productively, we need to confront this mentality and understand that we are the primary factor in our own failures.  As human beings, we love when people acknowledge us personally in our success but we tend to diminish our role in our personal shortcomings. The truth is, our success is based on our initiative but it is also largely dependent upon the support of others. Personally, I am only successful when I am surrounded by a gifted faculty and staff.  Their ability to do their job ensures I will have the opportunity to successfully complete mine as long as I take the initiative. In our middle school, when a student encounters a momentary lapse in success, I first want them to examine their personal role in this situation. Then I want the student to examine those around them and identify those that will support them on their road to success.

 

Naturally, after we examine ourselves personally and our role in the failure, the next step is to determine ‘What did I actually do to prepare myself?’ Usually, an honest evaluation of our preparation leads to some quick conclusions.  Our lack of proper preparation often rises to the surface as a primary cause for our failure. This brings me back… and I hesitate to share my experience with college Chemistry, but I will. I studied hard for my first Chemistry quiz, to the point where I was confident entering the lecture hall that day.  A few days later this confidence took a major hit when I received my score. If my memory serves correct, my grade was a 37%! Now, I could have blamed all kinds of outside obstacles as college life has a surplus of them. But instead I self-examined, took responsibility and came to the conclusion that my personal preparation was clearly inadequate.  The day I received the exam was the day I went to the library and took advantage of the free tutoring services. The story ends well as I went on to earn an “A” in Chemistry. I also came to realize that although “I earned” a good grade for the semester, this success was largely dependent upon the help of others.

 

So was all my preparation in vain? After all I did score a 37% on that quiz, absolutely not.  Failure was the catalyst for future success. That quiz provided the momentum to take personal responsibility, examine my preparation, which then led me to reach out for more support moving forward, and, finally, I was able to succeed. As a teacher, coach, and now an administrator I have witnessed student disappointment with failure.  Of course it is natural to be disappointed with failure. The typical mindset is we prepared, studied, collaborated, practiced, all in vain when we fall short.  My questions regarding a momentary lack of success are: Do I hold myself accountable for this temporary lack of success? Did I actually prepare adequately? and, Was my preparation all in vain?

It is easy to pass the buck. Throughout our daily routine there are always a number of obstacles that may prevent us from accomplishing our daily goals and tasks.  The temptation is always strong to point to these obstacles and lay the blame on them for our failure. In order to move on productively, we need to confront this mentality and understand that we are the primary factor in our own failures.  As human beings, we love when people acknowledge us personally in our success but we tend to diminish our role in our personal shortcomings. The truth is, our success is based on our initiative but it is also largely dependent upon the support of others. Personally, I am only successful when I am surrounded by a gifted faculty and staff.  Their ability to do their job ensures I will have the opportunity to successfully complete mine as long as I take the initiative. In our middle school, when a student encounters a momentary lapse in success, I first want them to examine their personal role in this situation. Then I want the student to examine those around them and identify those that will support them on their road to success.

 

Naturally, after we examine ourselves personally and our role in the failure, the next step is to determine ‘What did I actually do to prepare myself?’ Usually, an honest evaluation of our preparation leads to some quick conclusions.  Our lack of proper preparation often rises to the surface as a primary cause for our failure. This brings me back… and I hesitate to share my experience with college Chemistry, but I will. I studied hard for my first Chemistry quiz, to the point where I was confident entering the lecture hall that day.  A few days later this confidence took a major hit when I received my score. If my memory serves correct, my grade was a 37%! Now, I could have blamed all kinds of outside obstacles as college life has a surplus of them. But instead I self-examined, took responsibility and came to the conclusion that my personal preparation was clearly inadequate.  The day I received the exam was the day I went to the library and took advantage of the free tutoring services. The story ends well as I went on to earn an “A” in Chemistry. I also came to realize that although “I earned” a good grade for the semester, this success was largely dependent upon the help of others.

 

So was all my preparation in vain? After all I did score a 37% on that quiz, absolutely not.  Failure was the catalyst for future success. That quiz provided the momentum to take personal responsibility, examine my preparation, which then led me to reach out for more support moving forward, and, finally, I was able to succeed. Students need to recognize that failure is temporary and when we examine our failures closely, we unearth the seeds for success.

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s