August 3, 2023
August 3, 2023
"The thing I love about baseball," my friend Nichole said as she and I spent a recent Friday evening in the stands of our local Triple-A stadium, "is that everyone fails 2/3 of the time they're at bat. It's about trying."
I responded by seizing my phone and transcribing what she'd just said. Nichole had tapped one of my deepest-held convictions: that successfully creating value in the world—any kind of value—requires abundant failure.
When I was a kid, I bought into the idea that grades were everything: the higher the grade-point average, the better the person, right? Once I graduated and realized that the real world couldn't care less about my degree or my GPA, that actual success depends mainly on one's willingness to persevere in pushing good things into the universe, my attitude flipped 180 degrees. I understood that if I were to succeed as an entrepreneur, I needed to be willing to experience failure—at least 2/3 of the time—and not to let disappointment in those failures bog me down, ever.
So I've done my best to raise my kids by engineering their world early on as a safe place to fail; it was one of the motive forces in my family's decision to homeschool. I've written many times in my column (e.g, in my essay Fail Safe) about how summer can be ideal for kids to practice the art of failing, because it's a time when they're free from grades and judgment and can just experiment in the world around them, seeing what happens when they try this or that.
Get out there and fail! you can say to your kids metaphorically (or actually) as you push them out the door. Swing for the bleachers, over and over, and occasionally you'll get a hit. It's about trying.