“Daddy, Watch this!” is a phrase that I heard about two hundred times yesterday. My seven year old daughter was saying it as she performed an underwater back-flip or some other trick in the pool. The consistent request got me thinking about the request. While she was extremely happy to do the trick on her own, it became even more important that she share it with me. The perfection of her delivery did not matter, each attempt was important even the “failures”.
As she flipped in the water, I thought about my students, adult friends and myself. We generally primp, polish and perfect everything before we put it on display. The obvious reason for this is a form of fear. We have failure shamed out of us by the time we are teenagers. The unfortunate thing is that failure is a necessary ingredient to all progress. Although public display of failure isn’t particularly necessary, I’m not sure many of us seek out failure in private either. In a society where no one ever fails, we stand still and become spectators watching the same old tired tricks that we’ve seen before.
So now what do you do? What do I do? We fail forward. We try to top what we’ve done before with the childlike optimism that we can. Then as we get closer and closer to our coveted goal, we can scream at the top of our lungs “WATCH THIS!” Perhaps we’ll fall on our faces. However I’d rather be face-down ready to try again than be standing on the sidelines with an empty heart and only criticism to offer the world.
Go fail forward today!