To bounce back from failure in school, you must first distinguish what you make failure mean.
Whether we fall up or down depends on the meaning we add to failure.
The first step is to debunk the 3 most common myths about failure.
- When I fail, there’s something wrong with my personal characteristics
- Failure means something about my natural talents
- Failure means that I should give up and try something else
Myth #1: a failure means something about my personal characteristics
The first myth that doesn’t allow you to bounce back from failure in school, is that you just aren’t smart enough or athletic enough or determined enough to accomplish it.
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th U.S. President, suffered from depression. He lost eight elections, failed twice in business, and suffered a nervous breakdown.
He could have made this mean that he wasn’t right for public office.
Lincoln became one of the most outstanding Presidents in U.S. history.
Myth# 2: a failure means something about my natural talents
The second myth that keeps you from bouncing back, or going for what you really want in life, is that you lack the talent necessary for success.
Michael Jordan, one of the most talented and highest paid athletes in history, was cut from the varsity basketball team during his sophomore year of high school.
It would have been easy for him to make this mean that he wasn’t talented enough to play basketball.
He went on to lead his high school team to a state championship, his college team to a national championship, and his professional team to six National Basketball Association Championships.
Myth #3: a failure means that I should give up and try something else.
The final myth that effects failure in school, is that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.
J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, was rejected by publishers 12 times.
She could have easily given up on being an author, had she taken these failures to mean that she should focus on something else.
Having sold over 500 million copies worldwide, Harry Potter is the best-selling book series in history.
The truth is that failure in school doesn’t mean anything – it’s simply part of success.
Chances are, if you’re not failing, you’re either not challenging yourself, you’re not growing, or you’re not trying anything new.
Thomas Edison completed about 10,000 experiments before he successfully invented the alkaline storage battery, which means he failed 9,999 times.
There’s no getting around failing, if you want to be truly successful at anything.
What else could you make failure in school mean?
This is where Achor’s 4th Principle of Happiness comes in – Falling Up.
That is, interpreting failure as valuable feedback will have you bounce back quickly.
Following are healthy interpretations of failure:
- First, failure is part of success; it’s not personal to me.
- Also, my natural talents are fine; I just need to keep taking actions.
- Obviously, I learned something from that failure. How do I apply it to the next action?
- Without a doubt, we miss 100% of all the shots we never take.
- Certainly, the most successful people have failed a lot; this is part of the game of success.
- Or, I’ll talk to someone I trust, and get a fresh perspective on this.
- Lastly, I’ll bring this to a group I’m in: my team, my class, my family, my friends, etc.
Now, go out and take action, and when you fail, bounce back!
Lastly, for a comprehensive outline of Shawn Achor’s 7 Principles of Happiness from his book, The Happiness Advantage, read the following posts:
- Happiness: The Competitive Edge in School
- Learn to Scan for the Positive in 7th and 8th Grade
- Growth Mindset Essential for Middle School
- Middle Schoolers Can Create Happiness