Facing failures can be a key to success

By Cody Laplante

We have all been there: a class where the instructor asks a question and nobody answers. It’s awkward and everyone feels it. All eyes are on you. You know the answer but you don’t want to raise your hand.

In almost every class that I am in this has happened at least once and I admit that more often than not I conform to the pressure and fail to answer.

Why, though? Well, it is safe to say that people in general hate to be wrong. People hate to fail and therefore hate to try something in which they might not succeed.

According to Amanda Durik, associate professor of psychology, humans have a fundamental need to not only feel competent but also to make people believe that we are competent. We have the tendency to avoid situations in which we may be wrong because we think that failure is an indicator of incompetence.

Not only is this simply not true, but failure may in fact be the key to success.

If try you may succeed, but if you don’t try you never will.

Research by Carol Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford University, shows truth in this statement. In her book Mindset, Dweck explores how attitudes can affect a person’s success and how failure in the right mindset can help us grow and ultimately succeed.

According to Dweck, a fixed mindset is the idea that intelligence, talent and similar qualities are fixed and cannot be improved. Dweck encourages readers to take a growth mindset in which a person believes that his or her abilities are not definite and can be improved.

Failure in this “growth mindset” is encouraged because failure is only an indicator of what needs to be improved.

The danger comes when someone spends their life in a “fixed mindset.” Failure in this mindset will never lead to success because the person is not empowered to try the task again.

Affirming this idea, Durik said, “If we turn it around and say, ‘Failure is a part of learning and only when you are really challenged are you faced with an opportunity to grow,’ then failure is actually what we should be seeking.”

Our society for years has been focused on striving for success. Therefore, seeking failure may go against everything we have been taught. However, since failure in the right mindset leads to success, then maybe we should be striving for failure.

And although it is unlikely that our society will change, make sure that you face failure and make it a factor in your ultimate success.

So the next time you are in class and the professor asks a question, even if you have no idea what the answer is, say something. The best thing that can happen is that you could be wrong.