Monday, February 06, 2012

Embracing failure - a neo-liberal concept?

A school in the UK is teaching their students the concept of not fearing failure, a concept well-known to improvisors.

Some folks commented on the story, labelling the embracing of failure as a neo-liberal concept, responsible for much of what's wrong with Canadian society. I felt it necessary to set them straight.

"I believe that you are missing the point.

Embracing failure is not about accepting mediocrity. It's about removing the fear of failure. The fear of failure acts as a deterrent to try more than one way to accomplish something. People in our society do not achieve mediocrity because they embrace failure. It happens because they give up trying, or don't care anymore.

Embracing failure, or learning not to fear failure, enables people to keep striving for a better way. A culture with this approach cultivates more successes because people won't be hesitant to offer suggestions and try new ways of accomplishing things. If this concept were embraced in school and at work, we would see an improvement. But it still would not stop people from being lazy, or settling for the status quo.

And anyone who labels this concept as liberal or left-wing doesn't know their history. Canada exists because Sir John A. Macdonald did not fear that forming the Dominion of Canada might fail. Don't take my word for it. Read the 3rd paragraph on the wikipedia article about him."

1 comment:

Bruce Lynn said...

The most common problem critics of 'embracing failure' have is misconstruing the message. It's not the 'failure' is good (most failures suck), it is the 'embrace' that turns the adversity to advantage. The 'embrace' is a mindset and a perspective, not a pursuit. Failure is an artifact of a creative process, not the end goal in itself. Also, not all failures are created equal. Heart failure and muscle fatigue in training are two different things. A failed promotional campaign and a bankrupting initiative are two different things. For a look at some of the distinctions, check out -