What’s the worst that can happen if you fail? Will you blow up in a cloud of smoke?

I have a very different take on the statement “Failure is not an option” after 20+ years of running a learning company and 16+ years of parenting.

At one point in my goal-driven yet perfectionistic mindset, I equated the simple act of not doing something perfectly the first time with making a mistake and, subsequently, with failure. Failure is not an option meant,  “Don’t (you dare) make a mistake.

The fear of making mistakes limited my ability to deeply invest myself in – and achieve – certain results. Carol Dweck would most likely refer to this as a “fixed mindset;” would you agree?

And yet there’s hope: my passion for teaching and learning helped me evolve over time with Yellow Parachute in spite of mistakes, disappointments, and hard seasons. 

I can see how my vision of how education can better serve our students has given me the opportunity to reflect differently on the relationship between mistakes and failure.

My perspective has evolved from “don’t make a mistake” to, “ there are no mistakes.”

Do you see the difference? Can you feel the difference? The Growth Mindset?

I believe that the only time we indeed fail is when we do not try again at something we’ve set our hearts to do. And really, that is more about not honoring a promise we’ve made to ourselves – than failure. 

The act of trying something, taking a risk, putting forth a fantastic, solid effort, gives you the opportunity to gather data about what worked and what didn’t. And the opportunity to reflect on whether the effort is worth the results.

I offer a 5 step process:

  1. Set your vision.
  2. Make your goals.
  3. Align your actions.
  4. Evaluate & Reflect.
  5. Repeat.

The choice is yours. You get to decide. There are no mistakes. And most importantly, you are not alone! Ask for help if you need it.