It’s OK to be crappy. It’s not OK to fail. Wait, hear me out. I’m not against learning from failure. Much has been said about our ability to learn from failure. But I think failure has been overated lately, and educators often receive heavy criticism for not allowing students to fail at stuff.
We’ve all heard the quotes that are supposed to make us feel better about failure.
“You learn more from your failures than your successes.”
“Better to have failed than not have tried.”
“Success is built upon your failures.”
“Failure isn’t fatal.”
Sure, there is truth here. However, often we fail because we quit, we’re lazy, gave up, or just weren’t good enough. There are times we fail because we weren’t prepared. Sometimes we fail to plan properly or our plan was just wrong. If you learn from the failure it’s frequently a buy product not a revelation. You should have known the results beforehand.
I failed a math class in 8th grade. I didn’t learn more for that failure than if I had succeeded. I failed to follow the speed limit in a National Park and was issued very price ticket. No great lesson learned. I knew the speed limit. I failed to make the basketball team. I was, and still am horrible at basketball. These are a few examples of my many failures. Would I give the failure up for success? You bet.
The logic seems simple. Failure is part of the learning process, but only if we make it part of the process. I agree that if we seek to learn from our failures we don’t repeat them. Failure can be a valuable training too when failure is part of a well planned and orchestrated scenario. The military does this often and very well. They create the no win scenario. The operation is doomed to fail. But these exercises are designed as a mental and physical training tool. Failing at school seldom is.
So when is it OK to be crappy? When it’s not OK to fail.
It’s not OK to fail your freshman English course. It’s just not OK. Do you have to get an A? No, but if you have the ability to than sure you should do your best. But sometimes your best will result in less than stellar results.
I’m a dyslexic and I’m crappy at grammar and spelling. I’m sure there are many grammatical errors in this blog (not the title of my page). Some people will have stopped reading by now because of those errors and assume much about my intelligence. But it’s not OK to have failed to learn basic grammar. I’m still the king of the run on sentence and comma splice. I’m crappy at grammar and it’s OK. It’s not OK to give up on doing my best and managing this area of weakness.
We all have areas of weakness, stuff we are just crappy at and it’s OK. But because we have weak areas in our lives doesn’t mean we can consistently fail to perform at a basic levels of success in those areas.
It’s OK to be crappy at sports. It’s not OK to be obese. You have to get moving and stay healthy or your health will most certainly fail you.
It’s OK to be crappy at public speaking. But you have to learn to interact and community with others or you will consistently fail in jobs, and relationships.
It’s OK to be a crappy artist. Leave the art to those with talent.
It’s OK to be crappy at organization. It’s not OK to be a hoarder. Find someone who is organized and make a new friend.
It’s OK to be crappy at dealing with new technology, that’s what teenagers are for.
I think your getting the point.
You see we all have stuff we’re not good at and it’s OK. Yet, that doesn’t mean we don’t have to manage those areas. Some of our weakest areas if not managed become areas of consistent failure. Consistent failure can, and often does, result in heavy consequence.
We should avoid failing. Don’t misunderstand me here. We should all totally try new stuff, to be innovative, experiment, or go out on a limb. To grow intellectually, mentally, physically or just learn new stuff requires some risk of failure. That’s when failure is OK. If we always play it safe we can’t discover some of what we might be the very best at.
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