Failure is never fun, but it doesn’t have to be a source of shame. If you fail at something, it doesn’t make you a failure; it’s an event, not an identity. And we all fail, so why not give yourself permission to be human?
In Everything Is Figureoutable, Marie Forleo offers a lovely way of redefining failure:
F.A.I.L. = “Faithful Attempt In Learning”1
So when we fail, we can understand that it just means we were attempting to grow. Growth is often a struggle, and that struggle often involves failure, but it’s worth it. Remember, struggle makes you stronger.
As I’ve said before, mistakes and failures are learning opportunities – they’re actually good. That doesn’t mean they feel good, but if we understand their value, then we can feel a little better about them. Learning requires risk, and sometimes learning hurts (and not just when you fall off your bike).
So move forward with both humility and confidence: the humility to know you’ll sometimes fail and the confidence to know that you’ll eventually figure it out.
Don’t avoid failure and don’t fear it. When you inevitably do fail, don’t be ashamed. Instead, heed the wisdom of Samuel Beckett:
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”2
1 Forleo, Marie. Everything Is Figureoutable. Porfolio, 2019.
2 Schlottman, Andrea. Samuel Beckett: Fail Better and “Worstward Ho!”
Chris Loper has been working as a tutor and academic coach since 2014, racking up over 10,000 hours of experience supporting students.
Along with Greg Smith, Chris is the cocreator of Parenting for Academic Success (and Parental Sanity) – a five-part course offered every summer.
Chris’s most recent endeavor combines his academic and habit-formation expertise to help students thrive in college. Visit SmartCollegeHabits.com to learn more.
In 2021, he published a humorous memoir titled Wood Floats and Other Brilliant Observations, a book that blends crazy stories with practical life lessons, available on Amazon and through most local bookstores.
He lives in Issaquah, WA where he is the owner of South Cove Tutoring.