The four-letter word you should use in front of your kids


Sarah Welch

posted in Tips & Tricks

FAIL: Last week I stumbled upon a wonderful post on Harvard Business Review blog, (yes, I am a giant nerd) titled: Why I Hire People Who Fail.

In the post, the author reminded readers of something that is true and yet very counter intuitive, especially to parents, and that is: failures teach us more than successes.

Failures are excellent teachers because they push us to look back and figure out exactly what happened. When we succeed, we celebrate. But when we fail, we ruminate.

The point of the article was that we should take the time to ruminate more thoughtfully. The author explained how he created a wall for memorializing failures in his office conference room. He painted a wall with chalk paint and every person in his firm was encouraged to write down their failures on the wall along with the most important lessons learned from them, for all to see.

He wrote down his failings first, which made others more willing to share theirs.

Memorializing failures ended up helping in two ways. First, it took the shame out of failure for the people experiencing it. Instead of dwelling on a negative event, employees had to focus their energy on synthesizing meaningful lessons learned. The wall of lessons learned in turn helped the entire company avoid making the same kind of mistakes in the future by making them public. It made the whole company smarter, in effect.

It got me thinking.

As a parent I really want to teach my kids to embrace failure as one of life’s greatest teachers. I personally didn’t really grasp the potential of failure to teach until I was well into adulthood. I grew up sweeping my failures under the carpet with embarrassment and shame.

I don’t want my children to waste precious learning opportunities doing what I did.

Plus I want them to understand the concept of imperfection to their toes – and embrace it wholeheartedly.

So I am thinking of creating a little failure wall of our own at home too. A place where dad, mom, and eventually the boys, can post our failures publicly and share the hard-earned wisdom gained from the experience. It’s a powerful visual reminder that success comes from picking yourself up after you fall and try, try, trying again.

I’m curious what you think about this idea. Let me know if you would ever have the courage to do it at work…or at home.

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