to "Fail Successfully"
by Jim Davis
Our society is
built on a paradox when it comes to failure. On the one hand we are
taught about all the famous people -- inventors like Edison,
political leaders like Lincoln and Churchill, athletes like Michael
Jordan -- who went through periods of failure in their lives and
triumphed to succeed. On the other hand, however, we learn that
failure is a disgrace -- even answering a question incorrectly in
class can bring ridicule, sometimes even from the teacher. Sometimes
even a well-meaning comment can be perceived as a criticism that can
have devastating results.
father-in-law told a story of his experience with this type of problem.
He was never very
fond of "book learning" in school, although he was a very
intelligent person. One day, however, his teacher gave a writing
assignment that he really got excited about. He really put his heart
into the project and did what he considered to be his very best work.
When I heard the
story, he was in his late 60s, but the hurt was still on his face
when he told how he was so excited to get the paper back from the
teacher, and then he looked at her comment: "Too Brief."
Nothing else. That teacher probably never had an inkling of an idea
that she had squashed a budding interest in writing. But she did it.
pointing to the "obvious flaws" in your teen's reasoning
when they come up with an idea for something they want to do, try
encouraging them to try it. And if it doesn't work the first time
encourage them to try alternatives. Just don't tell them what to do.
Let them come up with their ideas. Even if they decide to ask for
your help, make it clear that they are the ones in charge. If you
make a suggestion that they don't like, it's their option to turn it down.
If this seems like
too big a risk, try one thing before you "put your foot
down." Rent the movie October
and watch it with your teen if you haven't seen it yet. (The book is
great, too.) If you have already seen it, you already know what I'm
getting at. Your teen will grow up to be an adult, regardless of what
you do. You will have some input on what kind of adult they become, however.
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