Failure and Risk

November 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

Failure is terrifying.  It keeps us awake at night.  It motivates us to keep driving even though there is complete darkness ahead.  Sometimes, it causes us to fold or to  collapse under the thought and pressure of having it become too prevalent in our lives.  Fortunately, we, as human beings have the resilience to learn from our mistakes and take control of them.  How we handle failure determines whether it makes us weaker or stronger.

For one graduate of Counterpane, failure has not been able to break him.  He graduated from the University of Georgia as a Drama Major in 2011, moved to Chicago, and has invested in his acting career.  He just landed a part in a big play: The Glass Menagerie.  A critic saw the play and the review was not so stellar.  In the words of the actor:

We were pretty panned, all I can do is just laugh it off.  Honestly it just makes me want to audition for things.  I’m glad no one was singled out as particularly bad.  And quite frankly, I have to agree with the reviewer in a lot of ways.

How we approach failure is determined by how we are taught to approach it.  One current student’s experience mirrors one student’s drive who displays his ability to take a physical and emotional risk despite the possibility of failure.  This student, when reaching high for a clip to display his artwork, was told by a teacher, “Boy that is really high for you.”  The quick response by the student: “I like to reach.”  Despite what this student meant, both the literal and metaphorical versions of that statement speak volumes to the culture that has been cultivated at Counterpane.

If we can teach our students and children to take grand risks they will become astronomically better people despite their failures.  If you reach for the moon and fail, you’ll at least land among the stars and a star is a great place to try for the moon again!

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