Saturday, August 28, 2010

Fail Forward: Perseverance

Too many people are surprised and easily give up at their first failure in anything they attempt.  Eventually they may stop attempting to do anything.  They may develop learned helplessness.  This character flaw is primarily laid at the feet of their parents, then at their schools, and then society as a whole.  By the time they are adults though; like it or not, it is laid squarely at theirs, or your own feet. 
Real lasting positive success simply does not occur without failure and the opportunity to learn from mistakes. It never has and never will. Fortunately we do not have to commit all the failures which are possible. If we are both sufficiently humble and intelligent, we will primarily learn from the  mistakes of others.
Protecting children or adults from non life threatening or physically catastrophic failure robs them of the crucial lessons they need to learn to achieve and succeed, and may rob society of great leaders, inventors, and the associated opportunity and greater good they provide for all.  Certainly caring friends and family can provide some safety net; however, not to the extent to lose the lessons and opportunity for adjustment, greater self-efficacy and success.
Allow your children to fail; but always, help them, encourage them, love them, give them the tools, to fail forward.

“Every man over forty is responsible for his face.”

Abraham Lincoln
Lincoln's point was that a person's character is reflected in his or her face, for which by forty s/he is totally responsible.
The only real failure in life is the failure to try."

"There are no failures - just experiences and your reactions to them.
Tom Krause

Life's real failure is when you do not realize how close you were to success when you gave up.

Success builds character, failure reveals it
Dave Checkett

My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing from God as my successes and my talents and I lay them both at his feet.
Mahatma Gandhi

"I didn't fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong
Benjamin Franklin

"The only time you don't fail is the last time you try anything - and it works."
William Strong

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
Thomas Edison

"Supposing you have tried and failed again and again.  You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call "failure" is not the falling down, but the staying down." 
Mary Pickford

"A man may fall many times, but he won't be a failure until he says that someone pushed him."
Elmer G. Letterman

"Nothing fails like success because we don't learn from it.  We learn only from failure." Kenneth Boudling

"That which we persist in doing becomes easier, not that the task itself has become easier, but that our ability to perform it has improved."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.”

George Washington

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it
George Santayana

The following three poems are from The Book of Virtues

“The fisher who draws in his net too soon,
Won’t have any fish to sell;
The child who shuts up his book too soon,
Won’t learn any lesson’s well.

If you would have your learning stay,
Be patient—don’t learn too fast;
The man who travels a mile each day.
May get round the world at last.

A law of education, one of the few, is that Distributed Practice is Better than Massed Practice. Cramming simply is not as effective as ongoing effective study.  Failure to study will have it's consequences and a habit of ongoing effect study it's rewards.

“When things go wrong; as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you don’t a bit.
Rest! If you must—but never quit.

Life is queer, with it’s twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won if he’d stuck it out;

Stick to your task, though the pace seems slow—
You may succeed with one more blow.
Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt—

And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight with you’re hardest hit—
It’s when the things seem worst that YOU MUSTN’T QUIT.

Carry On!
It’s easy to fight when everything’s right,
And you’re mad with the thrill and the glory;
It’s easy to cheer when victory’s near,
And wallow in fields that are gory,

It’s a different song with everything’s wrong;
When you’re feeling infernally mortal;
When it’s ten against one, and hope there is none,
Buck up, little soldier, and chortle;
Carry on! Carry on!

There isn’t much punch in your blow.
You’re glaring and staring and hitting out blind;
You’re muddy and bloody, but never you mind.

Carry on! Carry on!
You haven’t the ghost of a show.
It’s looking like death, but while you’ve a breath,
Carry on, my son! Carry on!

And so in the strife of the battle of life
It’s easy to fight when you’re winning;
It’s easy to slave, and starve and be brave,
When the dawn of success is beginning.

But the man who can meet despair and defeat
With a cheer, there’s the man of God’s choosing;
The man who can fight to Heaven’s own height
Is the man who can fight with he’s losing.

Carry on! Carry on!
Things never were looming so black.
But show that you haven’t a cowardly streak,
And though you’re unlucky you never are weak.

Carry on! Carry on!
Brace up for another attack.
It’s looking like hell, but—you never can tell:
Carry on, old man! Carry on!
Robert Service

And last but not least, one of my favorite poems.


OUT of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate: 
I am the captain of my soul.
William Ernest Henley. 1849–1903

Supplemental information:
Kerrying On: For the Want of a Wheel
Failure is not falling down but staying down (to paraphrase Mary Pickford). Here's five highly successful women who experienced failure on their road to success
Fail Your Way To Success! Why Failure Is So Wonderful!
Thomas Edison's Failures
How to fail forward

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