Here’s the thing: we are raising our kids in a society where they are rewarded for just showing up; where the expectation is not that they work hard, but that they are simply present. We give trophies for just being on a sports team, regardless of their skill improvement; we incentivize kids to come to school by giving them prizes, regardless of their performance; we defend our kids and rescue them when they fail, removing any assignment of responsibility or value of meaningful consequences.
|Photo credit: Mmoyer|
I’m all for positive reinforcement, but I also see the danger of replacing the intrinsic rewards of intentionally setting, working towards, and achieving challenging goals with the idea that it is good enough just to be there. Our professional jobs don’t work that way; our relationships don’t work that way; life does not work that way. This breeds the kind of motivation (or lack thereof) that has people expending more energy looking for ways to work the system in their favor (which isn’t all that hard to do), than committing to, sacrificing when necessary, and doing their absolute best to be successful. If you don’t know what it feels like to fail- if you miss the opportunity to learn from your mistakes- will you ever truly know and appreciate success? Or will you just feel entitled to more?
I don’t think anyone wants to fail, but each failure brings a unique opportunity to grow and learn and become a better person because of it. And sometimes that opportunity from failure is well beyond the original goal of success. Failure can be a gift. Just look at the inspirational underdogs around us who have overcome inconceivable odds, like Oscar Pistorius (aka “Blade Runner”) from the 2012 summer Olympics, because they are willing to redefine success and be even better in spite of their disadvantages. And remember Christopher Columbus, the guy who discovered America...by mistake? Take a minute to ponder this list of 50 Famously Successful People Who Failed At First- what would have happened if they ended their pursuit of success and settled for just good enough?
|Photo credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walt_Disney|
Okay, I’ve vacated the soap box, thanks for indulging me. I would give you a trophy for participating, but... What are your thoughts on teaching kids how to fail so that they can ultimately succeed?