By Maureen Look-Ainsworth — Recently, a former student, Melissa, talked with me about her progress in high school. She is excited and spirited about the endeavors in her life. She is painting a mural for one biology teacher, playing first chair in flute (as a freshman!), in marching band, and energetically pursuing opportunities in her new environment that would help others and hone personal and interpersonal skills in herself.
Her enthusiasm is indicative of the freedom she sought, the freedom she was given by her parents to peruse subjects with endeavor, the freedom with which she sought out educational opportunities with her teachers. She uses her positive leadership attributes and dovetails them with these opportunities to continually find avenues to utilize her talent. These opportunities are exhaustive, but the creativeness that God had given her was immensely undergirded by the support to continue to seek them. She has received many awards for her artwork and continues on her road to success.
But one piece is missing here.
Many think that this success comes from just talent that she was “given” these opportunities and she just was there to receive them. Contrary to popular belief, those who succeed in life are those who work VERY hard, those with a consistent work ethic, those who have goals each and every day of the week to hone skills that still might have burrs that need to be ground off. They often experience failure many times over before they experience success. Life is a wonderful adventure, peppered with difficult, heart wrenching times, salted with those who don’t believe in your pursuit, seasoned by challenges on how to overcome the “there is only 24 hours in a day and I need 36 hours!”
I have another former student, Micah, who is a selective mute, cognitively disabled, who shines with a smile and an affable spirit every time I saw him. He didn’t show that mute trait in my class, instead he showed enthusiasm and spiritedness to try to match and achieve all that his peers were accomplishing. His cognitive abilities were challenging to him, but his desire to achieve and succeed superseded his weaknesses as he overcame struggles in his learning experiences. He failed often but laughed it off and continued on without a thought. He expected to fail in order to succeed! He had an indomitable spirit.
What I would do to have more Melissa’s and Micah’s in my classes that were willing to put forth their BEST effort everyday without showing a pretense of saving face in the presence of their friends and not give their best effort! Effort is the energy, the drive, the pursuit of all who have succeeded in life. Melissa and Micah had consistently and arduously sought opportunities and learned to fail. Yet failure did not overcome them, they used failure as a stepping stone to learn and achieve what they needed to know for the next step of their project. They failed many times, they expected failure to happen. They sought to fail in order to overcome!
How many of us seek to accomplish but then find ourselves in a situation facing failure and it stops us in our tracks? How many times do we allow that failure to inhibit us, allowing it to impede our growth as a student, a professional, or as a person?
Teaching is an honorable profession. I have learned so much from my students, I feel like I am the student and they are my teacher. I am open to seeing how they accomplish goals in their lives. I am interested in them as human beings, not just students. I want to take risks and fail so that I can move on into the success realm. But then failure will come again. And Again.
Take a risk today, fail, and then use that failure as a stepping stone and learn from the greats who are all around us. Look forward to failing, look forward to failing again. It is the nature of all that encompasses success!