Resilience Begins With Failure

“Who has made a fabulous mistake we can all learn from?” 

This is something you might hear one of our coaches ask a group of participants. What comes next is a flood of responses – everything from forgetting to clean their room, an embarrassingly rogue golf swing, getting a horrible test grade, to regretfully saying something mean to a friend.  

What the coaches are supporting participants to learn is something we all continually confront in our daily lives: how to grow through challenge. Building these muscles of resilience at an early age – and learning to build them in fun ways – is something we see to be transformative for young people. It’s about helping them see the value of a growth mindset when dealing with adversity and failure. This becomes a tool they can carry inside them to any challenge. 

How do we build resilience? 

Part of this process is to see the concept of FAIL as simply a First Attempt In Learning. Try it for yourself. Here is an exercise you can do with a partner (perhaps a friend or family member, or by yourself): 

  1. Think of a personal story about a time you made a mistake or failed at something in your life. Describe how it felt, what you thought, and share any details you feel comfortable sharing. 
  2. Invite your partner to offer insight into what you might have learned from that instance. Share from your own perspective what you learned from that mistake or failure. Highlight the ways that the mistake or failure really wasn’t a failure at all. 
  3. Switch roles and ask your partner to do the same. 
  4. Finally, reflect on how mistakes can help you discover inner strength. 

Failure is a necessary component of success, not the opposite of it. So in the face of failure, stop and look at it differently. See what you can learn and find the ways in which it helps you to build yourself even stronger for the next challenge.