My mom had a professor of English Literature who was a tough old bird.
Mom wasn’t used to failing, but she did. Her prof wasn’t particularly interested in the comfort or feelings of her students, only in the material. In fact, she was probably trying to weed out those students not overly committed to her process so she came down hard on their first assignment. Within a couple of months the class was much leaner. But mom said this prof really knew her stuff. So mom was at a crossroads.
Sometimes when we fail we find ourselves at a crossroads too. I’m not sure we’re teaching our young people how to respond to failure in that our tendency in society now is to remove pressure instead of dealing with it. But you and I know that when we fail at something we often find a fork in the road. Two possibilities: quit and be part of the problem, or stay and be part of the solution? No fruit or fruit?
Mom decided to stay. She asked her prof to critique her paper by focusing on what she did right first, then what she didn’t get right. It worked. She finished the course with a very high mark and says to this day that she learned the most from that prof than from any other prof she’d ever had.
Life can seem unfair sometimes. Tough times, a surprising circumstance, unexpected bills. There are many things we can’t control and it can make us feel powerless. But we have control over how we react to failing. We can quit and become part of our own problem, or we can stay and become part of our own solution.
It worries me when I’m not failing at anything because it means I’ve lost the courage to try something new.