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The misunderstood benefits of failing

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time that we fail” – Confucious

We often see failure as something to avoid at all costs. Failure is commonly associated with a feeling of embarrassment and loss. You know that feeling, right? The hollow pit deep in your stomach that reminds you of how badly you messed up. However, some of the greatest achievements have come from those who have previously failed over and over. A well known cliché is the ten thousand failed attempts made by Thomas Eddison to make the light bulb. Imagine failing ten thousand times. What must that feel like? What excuses would be left to tell your family and friends to make them understand that this is an integral path to your eventual breakthrough?

It is sobering to remember the timeless insights and lessons that failure brings to those of us who dare to try.

Here are six misunderstood benefits of failing discussed recently on our weekly podcast, Brave Hearts Bold Minds:

1. Learning from mistakes

Kelly Slater once said that “losses can be really good because they tend to get you a little more focussed, and if you use them right, they will improve what you are doing. It’s a balance, take a loss, figure out what you did wrong, where your head was at, whatever else was getting in the way, and then sort it out and get back out there.

2. Perseverence

Great leaders know that the battle is not against others, but against themselves. Our fear of failure and apprehension comes from a feeling of ‘we just can’t do it.’ Perseverance means having the strength and understanding to accept current circumstances, carry your burdnens and face your hardships – so that boys can keep moving forward and learn from their misadventures.

3. Optimism

It’s all about having a positive outlook, maintaining a sense of humour and developing long-term hope. This is a really important skill to have – boys learn to hold onto hope without the guarantee of the end result. This attitude will get them through the toughest losses.

4. Humility

The essence of humility is to understand that we are not perfect and are aware of our own faults.

5. Empathy

Failure teaches boys to be compassionate and empathetic to others. It reminds them that they shouldn’t judge another person unless they have walked in their shoes. It helps them understand that life is hard and everybody is trying to do better for themselves and their families.

6. Courage

The strength to do what is right, whatever the physical and mental challenges (Lambert and Cummins, 2009). Failure gives boys an opportunity to practice being courageous. It is only through these hard times, where they are put through the mental and emotional strain that they can truely know the depth of their own integrity.

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