I have two daughters, Grace (12) and Riley (16), and they are failures. They have failed at so many things in their short lives. They’ve entered countless contests (coloring, drawing, poetry, essay…) and have come up short too many times to count.
At one point, Riley wanted to become a singer, but she just didn’t have the chops. She went to singing camp over the summer. She tried out for parts in her junior high school musicals. She sang and sang at home (to the family’s dismay), trying to improve, but she just couldn’t cut it as a singer.
Grace started playing basketball in third grade. She’s played every season, making this her fifth year on the court. And, if I’m not mistaken, that’s the same number of points she’s scored in the entire career as a basketball player: five. The girl cannot shoot a basketball to save her life.
My girls fail… and I love it.
Because with every failure comes a better appreciation of success. With every failure comes knowledge of what better to do next time. With every failure my girls dust themselves off and give another try, because if my girls are failing, that means they are trying. With every failure, they get closer to success. And, with every success their confidence increases, so when they fail later on, they know it’s not the end, and the cycle continues.
I am sure that Grace’s stumbles on the basketball court helped her while she was doing her pull-ups training a couple years ago so that she was able to do fourteen in a row, more than most kids in her class. Her failed attempt at a business when she was five was the experience she needed in order to start the successful business she’s been running since she was eight.
I know the obstacles that Riley faced in trying to keep up with her peers running the mile in her PE class, were what she used to get to the Gymnastics Nationals Competition a few summers back. In grade school she attempted to start an iCarly-like YouTube channel with five friends, which failed miserably. That became the catalyst for the channel she started three years ago, now with nearly 200,000 subscribers.
Failure is integral for success!
Every time my daughters fail, that’s them giving something a try. That’s them thinking, I can do this. That’s them refusing to throw in the towel. When they succeed, sure, I’m proud, but their perseverance makes me even prouder. I’d rather them try and fail, then avoid taking risks for fear of failure.
It’s crucial, as parents, to make our children’s failures worthwhile, to praise their efforts and improvements. When our children see that we recognize their efforts, even when they’re not successful, they will take a chance the next time an opportunity arises.
Because my girls find success amidst so many failures, they have learned to believe in themselves.
Right now, when I go into Grace’s room, I can read a handmade sign she’s scrawled hanging on the wall beside her bed. It reads: “Google Doodle Grand Prize: $30,000 scholarship.” She’s been working on creating a Google symbol for the company’s annual design contest, and she’s already envisioning herself the winner. Why? Because she’s already succeeded, because she’s learned from her failures.
Odds are, she won’t win this one, but if she fails, that’s’ the fuel for a future success.