Latter-day Saint author Dan Wells said, “Until you’ve given yourself permission to fail, you will never succeed.” The beauty of this quote is the assurance that no one can succeed if they haven’t first accepted fallibilty will come.
I am so glad my mom sent me this quote after a hard week at school, because it brought me back to reality that in school and with teaching, it is okay to make mistakes. It is in those less-than-perfect moments that we grow and learn.
“Failure” is a hard word for any dedicated student, and I believe it is particularly hard to accept here at BYU, where much is expected of each of us. As a freshman I would call my dad in tears and moan that because I was not performing at the level I wanted, I was a failure, and didn’t deserve to be at BYU. Being the kind and wise man that he is, he gently reminded me that everyone feels that they fall short at some time, especially in a rigorous environment such as BYU; however, as long as I try again, failure is not the ending destination.
With those words in my heart and mind when other tests, assignments, or evaluations didn’t turn out as well as I would have liked, I used them as a motivator to make goals to do a little better for the next time. Throughout the rest of my collegiate career, I used any frustration as a stepping stone to make goals to do a little better and try again. When I look back at the time I spent in classes at BYU I realize I would not have been as dedicated if I hadn’t given myself permission to make mistakes, because then I never would have seen the improvements and successes along the way.
Now, as an intern for BYU (which counts as the status of a first-year teacher), I am re-learning the importance of deficiency in various areas and giving myself permission to fail in a new setting. I thought that I was accepting of failure after the talk with my dad that freshman year, but I never contemplated how I would feel as a professional. That is the beauty of learning and education: we are constantly learning the same principles and growing from them.
Though it is hard for me to welcome moments of inadequacy, I am glad my mom sent the email mentioned in the first paragraph. The advice . Success only comes through repeated failures. Why ‘repeated?’ Because if you fail and then give up, you’ll never succeed. You have to have the courage to fail again and again, because with each failure you learn, you make adaptations, you tweak whatever it is that you’re working on until–Voilá–YOU SUCCEED!”
Failure is hard: it’s hard to accept and live with, but it is monumental for our growth. Without failure, there would be no success, for there would be nothing to compare our successes to. As a student and as a teacher I have learned and am continuing to learn this timeless principle, which to me, is a success in and of itself.
Now I ask you, how do you feel about failure and success? Are they both necessary in learning experiences? Why or why not?