I Want You to Fail

Yes, you read that right. I want you to fail. And not just once but again and again and again. I want you to screw up, mess up, flub the line, tangle the string, drop the pass.

Why? Because, if you take it correctly, it’s the only way you’ll learn.

Learning from Mistakes

When you’ve made the mistake, take a moment and think. Review what happened. Where was your attention? What did you not understand? Is there someone who can help think through it, diagnose the problem?

I know you are probably upset but remember – the space between what happens and how you react is yours to use as you want.

Once you’ve thought about the recent past, take some time to think about the near future: what will you do differently next time? In fact, once you have the knowledge you need, I want you to go so far as seeing yourself doing that ‘thing’ perfectly.

(Make sure to include the joy you’ll feel in accomplishing it!)

Then, get after it. Again.  Remember…

Competence Is Earned

When I was in elementary school, my friends and I watched a baby bird coming out of its shell. Seeing it start to struggle at pecking through its shell, I reached out to help.  Before I could get to the shell, the scoutmaster stopped me and said, “No, that bird has to get out itself. Otherwise, he won’t grow.”

I don’t know if that’s true or not but it made sense. It still does today, four decades later.

Like that baby bird, you have to struggle in order to know how to overcome. When you realize that challenges are there to instruct you, inform you, and engage you, you’ll start to develop grit, stick-to-it-ivness and confidence.

It is not easy and it is really important.

Want the good news? The people at Camp Weequahic can teach you how to make this learning fun.

Learning from Mistakes at Camp Weequahic

First off, your parents aren’t at camp. That automatically takes some pressure off of you. You can fail all you want! (And, those parents who are there act like they aren’t!)

Camper, speaking as a parent and for our parents: we don’t mean to apply ‘pressure.’ We don’t want you to be perfect. We want you to be a good human who can handle the challenges and joys of life as you grow old. And, we want you to call us often when we get old!

Instead of your parents, you are surrounded by all these great mentors and teachers, people who are only a few years older but have the experience to teach. They also have fresh memories of their own mistakes and are excited to support you in the learning process.

Secondly, you realize at Weequahic that some of ‘struggle’ is internal – building the courage to make a new friend, try a new activity, be vulnerable. And, some of it is external for all to see – muffing a line on stage, dropping the baton in the relay race.

The good news is you are surrounded by a TON of friends who are going through it, too. All they want to do with you (rather than at you) is laugh and have a blast. Again, this takes the pressure down a notch.

Finally, we try a lot of different things and do our best to make sure they are fun attempts. (And, of course, we keep things as safe as possible!)

Healthy Habits

In the end, you learn to frame the mistakes as ‘learning opportunities’ rather than failures or losses. And, when you pile up enough learning, you’ll start winning. Not just at the game or with that tricky part of wood shop work, but in building a life of meaning.

And that, campers, is something we should all get after.

So, go out and fail today. Just don’t fail to learn from it. We’ll be watching and supporting you the whole way!

Have a great week,


PS – If you’d like to listen to a Campfire Conversation Podcast on this subject, you’ll find a short conversation between me and some good friends on iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher.

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