I read a note last week from Dr. Charles Fay of the Love and Logic institute. One thing he said that really stood out was,
“Failure is informative. . . not terminal.”
I scribbled it on a note on my desk and kept trucking along. But it has caught my eye several times over the last five days.
Failure is informative.
It will teach you so much if you’re willing to learn.
Like when you’re lighting sparklers, with your sister on the 4th of July, and all 9 little cousins are waiting, not so patiently. After you strike three matches in a row that simply scratch the box with no result, you learn that kids sometimes put used matches back in the box.
Maybe you should look for the ones with the green tips.
Like when you ask your sister to hold ALL the sparklers in one hand, so you can light them at once, with a plan to quickly distribute them for a cousin picture. It works, but her hand gets burned and all the sparklers go out before she can pass them out to anyone.
It’s probably not best to light 10-12 combustible sticks at once.
Or like when ashes drop on the blanket and someone kicks them into the grass instead of stomping out the flame, and you’re five seconds away from a fire breaking out.
Everyone learns a lesson about smothering, not fanning, a flame.
If we hadn’t tried, we wouldn’t know that lighting a box of sparklers won’t light them individually. It will only make one giant ball of sparks that lasts a very short amount of time. I’m thinking next year, we will buy a lighter and a punk.
The best part?
Our kids learned something about fire, by watching us fail. (And laughing their booties off.)
They now know why dead matches go in the trash. They know why you can’t light all the sparklers at once. They know to smother a flame to put it out.
They might also be clued into the fact that moms are human and figuring things out as we go.
These are all small lessons, from small failures. (of course they could have been much larger. . . thank goodness they weren’t)
They’re an easy example of how failure can inform us, if we let it.
Three things I learned from the sparkler fiasco:
- You never learn unless you try
- You have to acknowledge out loud that you did it wrong
- You have to talk about how to do it right next time
What if you took those three things and tried them in your everyday life?
What if you decided to try more things, even when you aren’t sure how to do them, knowing you might fail?
What if you acknowledged that you screwed up, instead of trying to cover it up with pride and excuses?
What if you talk about or journal about, how you’ll do it differently next time?
You’ll learn a lot more that way.
And so will the people on life’s journey with you.
Failure is informative.
It’s a way of looking at life that shifts everything.
To more love,
P.S. There were a few more priceless lessons from the day. Just wait. 😉