Life’s Greatest Teacher

by Dave Jackson

I’m not a big fan of TV. There are a handful of shows I find interesting. Most have to do with history. I love history because it is a great teacher. And it’s fascinating to me to see how humans learned (or didn’t) through the ages. Today I was watching a bit of history on how Rome was built while my daughter and her friend made Christmas cookies in the kitchen.

Rome brought a lot of great thinkers. It seems people were more interested in advancing in all areas – sort of like today. But through history the best teacher I have found is failure. Those who took it on almost always turned into great humans. Some of the names are very familiar: Augustine, Darwin and Freud.

Girls making Christmas cookies!“Failure and defeat are life’s greatest teachers (but) sadly, most people, and particularly conservative corporate cultures, don’t want to go there,” Ralph Heath says, managing partner of Synergy Leadership Group and author of Celebrating Failure: The Power of Taking Risks, Making Mistakes and Thinking Big. “Instead they choose to play it safe, to fly below the radar, repeating the same safe choices over and over again. They operate under the belief that if they make no waves, they attract no attention; no one will yell at them for failing because they generally never attempt anything great at which they could possibly fail (or succeed).”

I know you may think that you should hide your failures on resume, but a recent article in Business Week stated that many companies now embrace it. They are looking for warriors who have been in the trenches, veterans of failure. Success comes by risking and failure is just part of the package.

Taking risks“The quickest road to success is to possess an attitude toward failure of ‘no fear,'” according to Heath. “To do their work well, to be successful and to keep their companies competitive, leaders and workers on the front lines need to stick their necks out a mile every day. They have to deliver risky, edgy, breakthrough ideas, plans, presentations, advice, technology, products, leadership, bills and more. And they have to deliver all this fearlessly – without any fear whatsoever of failure, rejection or punishment.”

Life’s greatest teacher is fear. And I’m telling you the more you go for it and risk – follow your heart and create – you are one step closer to the success you seek.

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