When the theme of the Self-Worth Postcard Campaign 2019 was decided as “failure is an option,” we wanted to understand how children perceived failure.
Kids expressed different opinions and views, and most of them had to do with academics and the emotions and feelings that accompanied failure. The narrative went something like this: Failure creates an environment of sadness among family and teachers. Primary caregivers and teachers have certain expectations and securing good marks in exams would meet those expectations. When expectations are not met, they are labeled as a failure and this causes emotional disasters.
After the discussions, I played a showcasing famous people who have failed and grown from their failure. Then, I began a second round of discussion with the kids. I asked them to describe various instances where one can rise from failure? The idea of cliff jumping seemed to resonate with them. One child then expressed a concept that we as adults and mentors were trying hard to articulate: If you pre-assume failure and do not try something, it will never take you to next step but if you accept the risk of failure even if you fail, it prepares you for the next step. And if you succeed it will only provide a step to the new world.
I thought the explanation was beautiful, and I prompted them to find a way to express this idea of accepting the risk of failure in their artwork. My role there was only to facilitate the development of their own thoughts and ideas. And in doing so, I watched them create a beautiful, vibrant painting that became the design for a Self-Worth Postcard.
The team created a piece that reflects failure as a step to a new world of discoveries and achievements. The two cliffs represents a start and end point. The starting point is where most of us get stuck with our own assumptions and fears. We fear that we might not make it through to the other side.
Our mindset on failure is evident in the cliff-jump context. If you see the value in the journey, success and failure do not matter. If we fall fast and hard, it only prepares us for the next jump. Failure teaches us many great lessons as it better prepares us for the next jump.