Is Fearing Failure a Good Thing?

    cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Lel4nd
    Bear with me as I work through these thoughts…
    I have written about failure before.
    Have you ever been in a relationship and at some point, just not cared as much?  You still maybe felt something for that person but perhaps did not really give it what you had at some point in the relationship.  Sometimes this could be due to a feeling of comfort, but sometimes could it be that you simply did not care one way or the other if you stayed in that relationship?  Yes you would be hurt if it was over but you know it would not be the end of the world; you would get over it.  But when that relationship that you didn’t care about that much ends, ultimately, you have failed.
    But then you think of those relationships that may have ended but meant everything to you and failure led to a great deal of heartbreak.  Think of those relationships…the ones you have been in that you have worked hard to NOT fail. The relationships that you have cared about usually are the ones that you push yourself to get better.
    I saw this Arnold Schwarzenegger video awhile ago and he says a few things that stick it out for me yet seem a little contradictory:
    “Don’t be afraid to fail.”
    “Don’t fail because you didn’t work hard enough. Work your butt off.”
    If you listen to everything he talks about in the video, he talks about not fearing failure yet he puts all of the things in place to avoid it.  There is a fear of failure in his voice. (I won’t even getting into trying to analyze how he ultimately failed with his relationship.)
    I don’t think people should avoid doing things because they have a crippling fear of failure, but there is something to not wanting to fail that perhaps pushes us to do better.  There is some meaning and connection to the work, initiative  learning, relationship, whatever it is, that makes us do all in our power to avoid failure.  Often we won’t fail because we care too much to allow that too happen.
    Look at projects or new initiatives in your school…are there some that are there you could really care less if they continue on? Would staff care about initiatives in your school enough that they would be devastated if they were taken away? Do they care enough to do whatever it takes to make certain initiatives work? Failure probably will happen not because the planning wasn’t there, but the meaning or reasons you do the work were not compelling enough to see the work through.
    We have moved from a world that simply saying, “Do as I say”, is not enough.  There is a need, and should be a want, to clarify your “why”.
    I am starting to think that the trick is not getting students and ourselves to be okay with failure, but to care enough about the learning that failure is not something they will do everything to avoid.
    So…is fear of failure a good thing?


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