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Failure IS an option: Why we should embrace failure to achieve success

Letter to the Editor: We should rethink our new school motto

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As I am sure everyone in this school has noticed, we have a new school motto.

Instead of “Soaring to Success” or a similar phrase used in years past, our school now wears the new motto “Failure Is Not an Option.”

To say I detest this choice would be an understatement.

Failure is an option, and it is a choice. We must find within us the strength to persevere in spite of it and find our own successes.”

— Senior Hope Wilson

However,  it is important that I say that I have nothing against the people who chose this motto, or why they chose it, because I understand the pressures on them. My intention is not to throw anyone under the bus or anything of that sort, but simply to state my opinion on this issue.

Like Albert Einstein once said, “anyone who has never failed has never tried anything new.”

Listen: Failing is success.  Failure is inevitable. It is a part of life.

If we teach young people that failure isn’t an option they will never create anything new because they will be terrified of failing.  Many of the most influential people in history have failed miserably at one point or another. Only because of these failures have they been able to succeed.

Henry Ford revolutionized industrial production, changed the entire course of the economy in the 20th century, and went on to become one of the richest men of his time. He did this only after his first two automobile companies failed.  Miserably.

Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first job as a news anchor because she was deemed unsuitable for television. She is now one of the most well-known TV personalities and also a billionaire.

My point is, if we were to show either of these brilliant minds the sign that says “Failure is Not An Option” they would laugh in our face.

What they proved is that failure IS an option, and a viable one.

By teaching teenagers to be afraid of failure they are learning nothing.  But if we try a little harder to teach them how to experience and overcome failure, we will have much more success.

However, we like to focus on how important it is that no one fails anything in our school. When it comes down to it our school needs kids to pass their classes, and these state tests. I’m not saying it is a bad thing, I am saying it is okay until we fall into the trap of believing that a grade can define a human being.

By failing a test, I have learned what I need to improve to be better. By failing in sports, I have learned to work harder. I have never failed a state test but I do know better than to believe that failing a test like that defines how smart someone is. We put too much effort into scaring kids. Walking into our school, the greeting is the “Failure Is Not An Option” signs. Instead of growing a fear of failure, we should work on developing a want of success.

By teaching that failing isn’t an option, when a student raises a hand with the wrong answer, or has an idea shot down by a fellow student, or when someone builds a birdhouse that falls apart, the motto of our school blares in the back of their minds and they become wary of taking a chance again if it means possible failure.

So I conclude with this: as a captain of the soccer team, student representative of the school board, and high honor roll student, I stand by the idea that it matters not how much we fail or to what extent the damage.  What really matters is the ability to overcome adversity that will bring us success.

The only way to completely avoid failure is to do, say, and be nothing.

Failure is an option, and it is a choice.  We must find within us the strength to persevere in spite of it and find our own successes.

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5 Comments

5 Responses to “Failure IS an option: Why we should embrace failure to achieve success”

  1. M. Sunderland on November 3rd, 2014 12:35 pm

    I agree with your point of view, young lady!
    When the stress from a fear of failure becomes too great, it can and often does lead to actual physical problems. These problems then can cause a person to become ill and lead to extended absences from school or work, which in turn can lead to removal from school or loss of job. No one should have to deal with that sort of pressure, especially students! Instead of a motto giving kids the idea that they have to be perfect, why not use something more encouraging?
    This is just the opinion of a very frustrated parent and graduate of TAHS.

    [Reply]

  2. Charity Goddard on November 3rd, 2014 2:52 pm

    You are so right Hope! I didn’t know they had changed the motto, and that’s terrible. Being afraid to fail results in sitting around and not even bothering to try. Many many famous people have said that the only failure is not trying, because you learn something new from each time that you fail. There’s a reason it’s call “trial and error.” You usually learn more from multiple failed attempts than you would ever learn from instant success.

    [Reply]

  3. Wendy Grot on November 3rd, 2014 4:33 pm

    Congratulations! You have unlocked the key to success 🙂
    If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!

    [Reply]

  4. Amy Parker on November 3rd, 2014 5:15 pm

    Well said, “Hopie”. Keep up the good work!

    [Reply]

  5. Drew Baker on November 4th, 2014 9:23 pm

    Miss Wilson,
    Your words are more advanced and thorough than those who decided this motto would be a good choice. Every point you make is spoken with deep truth and concern. I could not agree more and I believe this motto needs reexamined for all students that walk through the doors to see a sign that beats them down instead of lifting them up. We all learn from failure and are better citizens for those experiences.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. They are spot on and need to be shared before the School Board.

    [Reply]

We have been getting a lot more comments recently (which is good!). Unfortunately, some of them have been kind of nasty (which is bad!). Not surprisingly, most of the nasty comments have been submitted anonymously. Therefore, if you would like us to even consider publishing your comment you must use your REAL NAME and a VALID email address. If you are a TASD student please use your school email address. Thank you and please comment responsibly!

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The voice of the Tyrone Area High School
Failure IS an option: Why we should embrace failure to achieve success