Monday, September 9, 2013

Integrity and Failure

photo credit: Cinzia A. Rizzo / fataetoile via photopin cc

Today I tried to do something in my life.  I tried my very best.

And I failed spectacularly. It was awful.

The circumstances don't matter.  The feelings do.

I stood there, with tears running down my face and mucus filling my throat and not enough tissue to blow my nose.  And the internal embarrassment was real as a colleague dressed me down.    .

It would have been easier not to try at all.  Failure would have been avoided.  But that would not have been honest.  And there is integrity in that.

Later I received a message from a dear person in my life, struggling with an issue of whether or not to drop a class during her senior year in college since she has never ever quit at something.  And I knew exactly how she felt.  And there was this amazing comment from one of her friends (who gave me permission):

"Relax. Breathe. Dropping a class is not the end of the world. Heck, failing a class isn't the end of the world. This class may not be the right thing for you this semester with everything else you've got on your plate. Professors understand that students are people. It's not the end of the world. You can do this. You have so many talents, don't worry about disappointing anyone."

Someone else had a day just like me.  And it was good advice.

So I learned something in the process.  First of all, I had a moment of remembering what it was like to be a child, a student, or an athlete who was totally lost and struggling with an issue.  I wanted to run away.  For just a moment, I was that most miserable kid in my room who had just definitively failed at something.

Failure stinks, but the attempt may still be honorable.

Now what?  What's the lesson for me as an educator?  

Simple.  I learned the value of a supportive adult all over again.  Haim Ginott was right.

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