Why Failure Is the Fastest Path to Student Success

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Why Failure Is the Fastest Path to Student Success

Writer and theologian C.S. Lewis wrote, “Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.” And it’s true! If you study the life of any successful person, you’ll find a slew of failures, and often, their ability to embrace it.

Find Out How Failure Manifests Success.

A Failure Lover’s Approach to Classes

We may believe we are walking into class ready to learn. But some astute professors will agree that too often, students show up wanting to show what they know, rather than what they don’t know. The attitude that we don’t know that much, but we’re here to learn, prepares our brains to receive, rather than to give — and that’s where learning starts. If we’re ready to learn, then we’re willing to fail. Because learning may start in not knowing, but it happens in failure.

Make Failure a Motivator

What do you do when you fail? Do you give up, or do you try again? Studies have shown that a large subset of the population, those with low self-esteem, get motivated to succeed in a task after failing. People with high self-esteem get motivated too, but may give up if they can save face or come up with a good enough excuse for failing.

And what about those “you almost had it” moments? They’re good for your success too if you accept it. Near wins can spur you to seek success elsewhere, motivating you to keep going. So don’t let misunderstanding a paper (and therefore getting a failing grade) be anything other than motivation to do better.

Failure as a Precursor to Success

Failure is a springboard to success. Each time you fail, you learn lessons, improve your skills and gain a better understanding of what it takes to succeed. Take gaming, for example. When’s the last time you beat a game? Did you beat it the first time you tried? Probably not. You spent countless hours learning, changing strategies and inching forward through it.

Failure works similarly in both business and education. All the while you’re failing, you’re learning and getting better. As long as you’re still trying, with each failure, you get a little closer to success.

Learn How to Embrace Failure

Embracing failure involves recognizing that it occurred and looking for ways you can use it to your advantage. Once you learn to embrace failure, you will no longer fear it. In fact, you’re more likely to feel emboldened and take even more risks because you know you can recover from a fail. Here’s how to embrace failure:

  • Know that the failure is temporary. This class will be over before long, that paper is over already, so the next thing is already in front of you. Get up and keep going so you can get past it.
  • Record what you’ve learned from it. Try keeping a failure list and noting the lessons you’re gaining.
  • Accept that you have limitations. Remember the part about not knowing, but learning? Know what you don’t know.
  • Learn failure is inevitable — so why not flip it and learn to enjoy it?

School is hard. It;s not meant to be a playground for people to show what they know. It’s supposed to be a place to learn. And learning happens in failure. It might not seem it when you’re in standing it its wake, but failure really is the fastest way to success. Don’t get discouraged if you fail. Rather, learn to embrace it.