How did you fail today?

by | Mar 23, 2019 | Change, Learning |

I read a story yesterday about a father would ask his daughters every night at the supper table “How did you fail today?” It wasn’t the only question, but it was always included. The result over time was not low self esteem or shame, in fact was quite different. The daughters learnt failure was a normal part of life, something expected not something to fear.

Failure is inevitable in life. Learning is a series of failure on the way to developing a new skill, new behaviour. As Seth says, in order to be good at something, we need to be bad at it first. This isn’t beating yourself up or false humility, this is reality – you don’t become Yo-Yo Ma without first being a boy with a cello.

In a subtle way, the father was helping his daughters develop a ‘growth mindset’ as Carol Dweck describes it; where effort is celebrated, not a finite outcome.

Perhaps in different stages of our change projects we need to ask our teams how often they are failing as they try to implement the change desired. How can we celebrate the ‘doing badly’ stage better than we currently do?

Oh and by the way, the daughters are highly successful in their respective fields of work and life today.


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