In my mind, I’ve been much less active on JALC than is actually the case. I’ve done 4 posts in the last 7 days — which, although less frequent than I’d wish for under ideal circumstances, is perfectly respectful for the kind of bananas week I’ve had…
And the only reason I’m taking about any of this is to take note of the strong internal pattern I still have around score-keeping. Figuring out what the standard is, constantly calculating to see if I’m measuring up or, instead, if I am failing. Because part of my system still clings to the limiting belief that to fail is a deeply catastrophic thing to do.
This is all very front of mind because earlier today, everyone in my company had to take the marshmallow test. Not, not this marshmallow test, this one:
The experience definitely got my mental wheels turning about my fear of failure and the ways I let that suppress me and hold me back.
I’m certainly not alone in this challenge. Since I follow Edutopia on Twitter, I remembered seeing this article last summer:
There is a major disconnect between schools and the real world on the notion of failure. School teaches us there is only one answer for every problem. And if we don’t get it, we are a failure. This dissuades students from trying — they fear failure. We need to teach students how to make friends with failure. . . . Schools have this failure-thing, the F-word, all wrong. They focus on getting the answer, but it is the questions and the mistakes that are actually more instructive. It’s in these spaces where we learn. . . . Education’s focus on the right answer and the grades has made students afraid to ask questions. Deborah Stipek, Dean of Stanford’s School of Education, writes in Science that schools incubate the fear of failure, which causes stress and anxiety to perform, which do not enhance learning.
[S]uccessful people take action as quickly as possible, even though they may perform badly. . . . Instead of trying to avoid making mistakes and failing, they actively seek opportunities where they can face the limits of their skills and knowledge so that they can learn quickly. They understand that feeling afraid or underprepared is a sign of being in the space for optimal growth and is all the more reason to press ahead. In contrast, when unsuccessful people feel unprepared or afraid, they interpret it as a sign that it is time to stop, readdress their plans, question their motives, or spend more time preparing and planning.
So now I have a new book on my to-read list, and a line of internal questioning. Because for all the ways my fear of failure jams me up a lot of the time, it is also true that in some realms, I have a strong experimenter on board. I wouldn’t be doing my consciousness study, or my detox journey, or even the blogging, if I didn’t have that aspect to me.
In some things I can summon the freedom of exploration and expansion, and in some things I haven’t yet made that leap. Now the process is to try and shift more of the latter group into the former.