Thursday, December 8, 2011

Why We Need to Fail

We only see our mistakes and everyone else's final product. That is why we feel like failures sometimes.

I watched the video below on a friend's Facebook page and loved it. I knew I did because it immediately made me want to write. I think our society- although we like to think that we value hard work- just wants instant success. The tendency to avoid failure also seems closely related to how people want rights and not responsibility.

If you do not watch the video, I will summarize for you:

The reasons why you need to fail:

1) Failing is required for learning
You build muscle by doing something a little out of your ability. To learn effectively you must make mistakes and pay attention to those mistakes.

2) Failing keeps you in the growth mindset
This is one of the points that excited me the most. A growth mindset believes that you can achieve something (a new skill, etc) by hard work. On the other hand, a fixed mindset believes people have innate talent and so outcome and  ability is based on that. So, someone who has a growth mindset will fail and think: "I need to work harder and I will get better at this." A fixed mindset will fail and think: "I am just not good at this." I plan on making sure to compliment my son by saying things like "You worked really hard on your throwing and look how well you've done!" Instead of: "You are a natural athlete!" I want to compliment his hard work and not his natural talent.

3) Failing reminds you that everything is just an experiment
When you experiment then you try things and discover. If it doesn't work, it was an experiment and not a failure. It doesn't mean that everyone's work is as good as another one's work. It is saying that experimenting can lead to great work because of a great discovery. If we are afraid of failing, then we stay in the same rut creatively, which seems an oxymoron anyway- "Creative" and "stuck in a rut" do not go together.
It reminds me of exercises in my acting class where we discover the meaning of the script by trying it a number of ways and doing odd things with it. Such as doing the play like we are 4 years old or like we are high. It may not work one way but you learn that it doesn't, or you discover something about the script you had not before. My acting teacher has said that actors don't like for people to see them in certain ways, they don't want people to see their ugly side, but we have to be able to display it.
 I like to cut up clothes and do new things to them. Sometimes I make a cut and think "whoops." It doesn't turn out like my original thought but it turns into something else that is cool. We are all perfectionist to some extent, we don't like for people to see us fail, but experimenting is a great way to break that paralysis.

I think this is totally exciting! If you know it is not only okay to fail but beneficial, then there is a freedom in that. And there is beauty in freedom.

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