Growth Mindset – The Difference Between Failing and Failing Well

We all fail.

There is no way to achieve success without failing first. Yet so many of us are afraid of failing and actively avoid taking risks because of this.

In fact, we naturally avoid risks – both physical and emotional. We are hardwired to avoid dangerous situations but we are also prone to avoiding emotional risks such as shame, embarrassment and failure.

And it’s not just affecting us, it’s affecting our children too. Studies have shown that a child’s mindset is more dependent on how parents deal with failure than on how they encourage success.

Overcoming the fear of failure is not just a matter of dispelling that fear and embracing risk. It involves understanding the difference between failing and failing well. Knowing how to fail well is the basis of developing a growth mindset.

What is a Growth Mindset?

A growth mindset is the belief that abilities can be developed through training and effort. Those with a growth mindset learn from their failures, accepting that failing will eventually lead to success. They learn from their mistakes.

Alternatively, a fixed mindset functions on the belief that talents and abilities are inherently acquired at birth. Those with a fixed mindset believe that they are defined by their successes and failures and that there is no room for improvement or change.

A growth mindset encourages the idea that “I can’t do that…Yet.” It recognizes that weaknesses can be improved upon by putting in effort and being open and welcome to challenges.

How to Fail Well

Failing well means acknowledging that a failure has happened and building the skills necessary to learn and grow stronger from one’s mistakes.

In order to encourage this idea of failing well, you need to create an open and safe space in which to talk about failure. This means being comfortable talking about your own mistakes and being receptive to hearing about your child’s mistakes without judgement.

Failing well also means taking risks that could lead to failure, understanding that doing so may be a mistake. This involves letting go of the fear of failure.

You can do this by exploring all possible outcomes in order to remove the “unknown” from the equation. Look at both the best and worst-case scenarios and have a contingency plan. Preparing a Plan B will give you the confidence to move forward knowing that, should you fail, there is another course of action.

The Benefits of Failure

Failure is not without its benefits, apart from establishing a healthy growth mindset.

Failure is an amazing teaching opportunity. Not only does it help us learn from our mistakes, but it also helps us develop a deeper understanding of ourselves and builds character.

It also builds resilience. When we allow ourselves to fail well, we make the choice to not give up and persevere until we find success.

Failure encourages growth by forcing us to evolve our way of thinking in order to find alternative ideas. It pushes our creativity and forces us to think outside the box.

Overcoming the Fear of Failure

In order to overcome the fear of failure, you need to accept that failing is okay and is simply a necessary step to success.

The more we accept our own failings and learn from our mistakes, the more our children will be encouraged to do the same.

When we stop fearing failure, and encourage taking risks, we help our children develop healthy growth mindsets.

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