Life Lesson 5
If you want to change the world
don’t be afraid of the circuses
Did you know there are four ways kids deal with failure? Some avoid it by never trying at all. Some do everything in their power to succeed, but only because they’re afraid to fail. Some accept failure as a reflection of their poor self-worth. And some embrace it as a way to improve.
Every day during training, the SEAL recruits competed in running, swimming, calisthenics, obstacle courses and other tests of endurance. The reward for failing to complete these challenges in a set time limit was more of the same: two additional hours of exercise. This was called a circus.
No one wanted a circus. A circus meant failure and fatigue. “But an interesting thing happened to those who were constantly on the list,” Admiral McRaven says. “Over time, those students who did two hours of extra calisthenics got stronger and stronger.”
What this life lesson means to us
The conventional child-raising wisdom right now is that kids today are too soft, too pampered and too afraid to fail. But let’s be honest: Do you like to fail? We sure don’t. It’s hard to fail, and even harder to admit defeat.
Of all the 10 Life Lessons, this one may be the toughest to take to heart. But try it. Teach your kids that when they fall short, it’s a great opportunity to do better next time. And don’t be afraid to talk about your own shortcomings. “Today was a terrible day,” you might say. “I had a big presentation and I blew it. But at least I know what not to do next time.”