By Dan Gerdes, Ph.D.
My mentor, Fred Smith Sr., used to say, “Never lose the good in a bad situation.” This is a piece of wisdom I’ve attempted to live out. While failures are seldom fun, they can be wonderful teachers if we are patient and mature enough to view them through the lens of humility. No one ever seeks out failure, but when it comes, it carries with it uniquely meaningful lessons that are experienced only through setbacks.
One day in one of my university classes, I asked my sport psychology students to come up with a list of ways that failure can be helpful. They identified 12 ways, which I’ve included below. In their fairly young lives, and limited teaching and coaching experiences, these college students had evidently experienced a variety of failures and had received some pretty good coaching and parenting to find good in the midst of bad – and sometimes painful – situations.
1. Failure usually creates humility. It’s about an improved or re-aligned perspective with what’s really going on, not what you imagine reality to be.
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