The Importance of Failure

Some of the greatest success stories of our time are actually failure stories.

Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first job as a news anchor because she “wasn’t fit for television.” Steve Jobs was unceremoniously removed from the first company he started. And Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team.

What would’ve happened if they had just given up after their initial failures? Share this video with your students to help them gain some new perspective on the importance of failure:

When students encounter new challenges or setbacks, they too often give up. They tell themselves they aren’t smart or talented enough. Instead of seeing the failure as a lesson, they see it as a mistake. You don’t repeat a mistake — you stop. You don’t bother with things you’re not good at. You don’t risk embarrassing yourself. In the academic world, that translates to giving up on an assignment…a class…or even school, in general.

In her extensive research, Stanford Psychology professor Carol Dweck has found it’s possible to teach students to respond more positively to failures. With the right coaching, we can all learn to see a wrong answer, a bad grade, or even rejection from an authority figure not as failures, but as steps on a path to success.

Understanding that it’s okay to fail can be a world-altering concept for young people, and EduGuide uses videos such as this one to reinforce this idea for the students who participate in our program. Our interactive, online activities get students thinking about how they can apply these ideas to their own lives every day. They become less afraid of trying new things and taking on new challenges, whether that’s a difficult subject in school or completing a college degree.

To learn more about EduGuide’s activities and how we can partner to benefit your students, please request a partnership plan at


5 Responses to “The Importance of Failure

  • I hate that things like this always state…”Teacher said…blah blah blah with a negative statement.”
    Enough already.
    We teach, to lift kids up…not bring down.

  • Melissa Joines
    7 years ago

    This contains a lot of interesting examples of “successful failures.” However, it also contains many grammatical errors, making it difficult for an English teacher to use in her class. It would also be more interesting to students if the speaker had more enthusiasm and the video had inspirational background music.

    I am not attempting to be rude or insult anyone. I simply feel that these things make me hesitant to use the video.

  • I agree–the grammatical errors and non-standard use of English make this a non-starter.

  • @ K and Melissa Joines

    But this could be a grammar lesson too, with cultural notes about how to not judge people on their grammar usage or lack thereof, but that it is important to learn and use good, standard English grammar if you want to be easily understood. The video is a perfect example.

    We had pen pals one year (back before email) and my student were complaining that they could not read their pen pals handwriting. Same concept. It you want to be understood, well, just sayin’.

  • Oops. See? I made errors and struggled to re-read it. Shoot.

    My students had trouble reading their pen pal’s handwriting. (corrected)

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