I have a good friend who has developed a profitable business by selling her own fiction novels via electronic publishing outlets. I know how much hard work she’s put into this venture, and I know her success has been hard-earned. I’m extremely proud of her.
She essentially learned the hard way — trial and error. The past four years have held a lot of ups and downs, but she never gave up. And there were plenty of situations that would have made the average person give up.
I’ve been thinking a lot about success and failure, and why some people — like my friend — have the courage to never give up.
When I asked her this question, she simply said, “What have I got to lose? If someone says, ‘No,’ then I ask another question or I find someone else to ask.” (Tangent: this is exactly my daughter’s philosophy when one of us tells her “No.” First she negotiates. Then she goes and asks someone else.)
Anyway, my point is that even when my friend failed, she tried again. And, to take it a step farther, she learned from her failures. In essence she looked at each one as a learning experience and used it to move forward.
That’s what I think made the difference for her.
Right now, when I’m deep in the throes of raising children, I often wonder if anything I do affects their ability to be successful adults. (And depending on where the pendulum is swinging, sometimes I wonder if EVERYTHING I do affects their ability to be successful adults.)
I suspect these two things are related. Because I really believe that to help my children be successful, I have to allow them to fail.
When I look back at key learning moments in my life, they usually stemmed from a certain level of failure. I’m trying to come up with a good example here, but most of these moments involve long, complicated stories.
So I’ll borrow something simple from my son. My kids are normal kids. They like sugar. My husband and I
love like sugar too. But we usually control our kids’ sugar intake, just to keep our lives a little more sane around here.
However, when my husband took my son camping with a bunch of friends on a “guys’ weekend,” they made up some new rules. One rule was, “Eat whatever you want.”
So my son ate whatever he wanted. Smores. Candy. Soda.
And he spent half of the camping trip with an upset tummy.
Now this memory resonates with my son — he’ll tell you all about it in vivid detail, should you desire. He learned his lesson in a quick and painfully simple way: he failed. And this year on the camping trip, he made some different choices.
This goes against my nature as a mother. Letting my kids fail? What? It’s not in our modern parenting psyche.
But I suspect that it should be.