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702: Yay Failure

Today’s question: What “failure” in your life has turned out well?

There are millions of ways to fail, and only one to succeed.

Success is often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable

Giving up is the only sure way to fail

There is no failure except in no longer trying…

And that’s just the very beginning of a very, very long — nigh on endless — list of quotes about failure. Almost all of them from individuals that would be viewed as “successful” in many measures — money, fame, or professional quote-unquote success.

The interesting thing is, what we often don’t spend a ton of time talking about is failure. This isn’t just my personal feeling — it’s something backed by research. In the 2016 research paper “Even Einstein Struggled: Effects of Learning about Great Scientists’ Struggles on High School Students’ Motivation to Learn Science” the authors discovered that when students were let in on the fact that Einstein, Marie Curie, and other well-known scientists struggled in their own work, the students were much more willing to work through what they perceived as failures and continue in science education.

And that finding – and the lack of other research to back it up – is what prompted one of the authors to get to work creating the Teachers College at Columbia University EPIC — Education for Persistence and Innovation Center. In their own words, EPIC is, quote:

dedicated to studying the critical role that failure plays as a catalyst for learning, innovation, leadership and career development.  EPIC is founded on the premise that success is often the fruit of persistence in the face of failure and adversity, which in turn motivates individuals to become creative problem solvers on the road to success. EPIC is dedicated to deepening our understanding of failure

In other words, studying how failure itself may actually, ironically, be what is absolutely necessary for success. It’s all a matter of how you define it.