Titles For Essays About Failure Making

To achieve the greatest success, you have to embrace the prospect of failure.

The sweetest victory is the one that’s most difficult. The one that requires you to reach down deep inside, to fight with everything you’ve got, to be willing to leave everything out there on the battlefield—without knowing, until that do-or-die moment, if your heroic effort will be enough. Society doesn’t reward defeat, and you won’t find many failures documented in history books.

The exceptions are those failures that become steppingstones to later success. Such is the case with Thomas Edison, whose most memorable invention was the light bulb, which purportedly took him 1,000 tries before he developed a successful prototype. “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” a reporter asked. “I didn’t fail 1,000 times,” Edison responded. “The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

Unlike Edison, many of us avoid the prospect of failure. In fact, we’re so focused on not failing that we don’t aim for success, settling instead for a life of mediocrity. When we do make missteps, we gloss over them, selectively editing out the miscalculations or mistakes in our life’s résumé. “Failure is not an option,” NASA flight controller Jerry C. Bostick reportedly stated during the mission to bring the damaged Apollo 13 back to Earth, and that phrase has been etched into the collective memory ever since. To many in our success-driven society, failure isn’t just considered a non-option—it’s deemed a deficiency, says Kathryn Schulz, author of Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error. “Of all the things we are wrong about, this idea of error might well top the list,” Schulz says. “It is our meta-mistake: We are wrong about what it means to be wrong. Far from being a sign of intellectual inferiority, the capacity to err is crucial to human cognition.”

Related:10 Things Successful People Never Do Again

Failure Is Life’s Greatest Teacher

When we take a closer look at the great thinkers throughout history, a willingness to take on failure isn’t a new or extraordinary thought at all. From the likes of Augustine, Darwin and Freud to the business mavericks and sports legends of today, failure is as powerful a tool as any in reaching great success. “Failure and defeat are life’s greatest teachers [but] sadly, most people, and particularly conservative corporate cultures, don’t want to go there,” says Ralph Heath, managing partner of Synergy Leadership Group and author of Celebrating Failure: The Power of Taking Risks, Making Mistakes and Thinking Big. “Instead they choose to play it safe, to fly below the radar, repeating the same safe choices over and over again. They operate under the belief that if they make no waves, they attract no attention; no one will yell at them for failing because they generally never attempt anything great at which they could possibly fail (or succeed).”

However, in today’s post-recession economy, some employers are no longer shying away from failure—they’re embracing it. According to a recent article in BusinessWeek, many companies are deliberately seeking out those with track records reflecting both failure and success, believing that those who have been in the trenches, survived battle and come out on the other side have irreplaceable experience and perseverance.

“The quickest road to success is to possess an attitude toward failure of ‘no fear.’ ”

They’re veterans of failure. The prevailing school of thought in progressive companies—such as Intuit, General Electric, Corning and Virgin Atlantic—is that great success depends on great risk, and failure is simply a common byproduct. Executives of such organizations don’t mourn their mistakes but instead parlay them into future gains. “The quickest road to success is to possess an attitude toward failure of ‘no fear,’ ” says Heath. “To do their work well, to be successful and to keep their companies competitive, leaders and workers on the front lines need to stick their necks out a mile every day.

They have to deliver risky, edgy, breakthrough ideas, plans, presentations, advice, technology, products, leadership, bills and more. And they have to deliver all this fearlessly—without any fear whatsoever of failure, rejection or punishment.”

Reaching Your Potential

The same holds true for personal quests, whether in overcoming some specific challenge or reaching your full potential in all aspects of life. To achieve your personal best, to reach unparalleled heights, to make the impossible possible, you can’t fear failure, you must think big, and you have to push yourself. When we think of people with this mindset, we imagine the daredevils, the pioneers, the inventors, the explorers: They embrace failure as a necessary step to unprecedented success. But you don’t have to walk a tightrope, climb Mount Everest or cure polio to employ this mindset in your own life.

When the rewards of success are great, embracing possible failure is key to taking on a variety of challenges, whether you’re reinventing yourself by starting a new business or allowing yourself to trust another person to build a deeper relationship. “To achieve any worthy goal, you must take risks,” says writer and speaker John C. Maxwell. In his book Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success, he points to the example of legendary aviator Amelia Earhart, who set several records and achieved many firsts in her lifetime, including being the first female pilot to fly solo over the Atlantic Ocean.

Although her final flight proved fateful, Maxwell believes she knew the risk—and that the potential reward was worth it. “[Earhart’s] advice when it came to risk was simple and direct: ‘Decide whether or not the goal is worth the risks involved. If it is, stop worrying.’ ” Of course, the risks you take should be calculated; you shouldn’t fly blindly into the night and simply hope for the best. Achieving the goal or at least waging a heroic effort requires preparation, practice and some awareness of your skills and talents.

Easing Into a Fearless Mindset

“One of the biggest secrets to success is operating inside your strength zone but outside of your comfort zone.”

“One of the biggest secrets to success is operating inside your strength zone but outside of your comfort zone,” Heath says. Although you might fail incredibly, you might succeed incredibly—and that’s why incredible risk and courage are requisite. Either way, you’ll learn more than ever about your strengths, talents and resolve, and you’ll strengthen your will for the next challenge. If this sounds like dangerous territory, it can be. But there are ways to ease into this fearless mindset.

Related:21 Quotes About Failing Fearlessly

Maintain a Positive Attitude

The first is to consciouslya mintain a positive attitude so that, no matter what you encounter, you’ll be able to see the lessons of the experience and continue to push forward. “It’s true that not everyone is positive by nature,” says Maxwell, who cites his father as someone who would describe himself as a negative person by nature. “Here’s how my dad changed his attitude. First he made a choice: He continually chooses to have a positive attitude.

Reading and Listening to Motivational Material

Second, he’s continually reading and listening to materials that bolster that attitude. For example, he’s read The Power of Positive Thinking many times. I didn’t get it at first, so once I asked him why. His response: ‘Son, I need to keep filling the tank so I can stay positive.’ ” Heath recommends studying the failures and subsequent reactions of successful people and, within a business context, repeating such histories for others. “Reward them and applaud their efforts in front of the entire organization so everyone understands it is OK to fail.

So employees say to themselves, ‘I see that Bill, the vice president of widgets, who the president adores, failed, and he is not only back at work, but he is driving a hot new sports car. I can fail and come to work the next day. Bill is proof of it.’ ” Finally, Heath stays motivated by the thought that, “if I become complacent and don’t take risks, someone will notice what I am doing and improve upon my efforts over time, and put me out of work. You’ve got to keep finding better ways to run your life, or someone will take what you’ve accomplished, improve upon it, and be very pleased with the results. Keep moving forward or die.”  

Related:Fail Often and Fast

Seth Godin: ‘I’ve Failed Way More Times Than I’ve Succeeded’

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in September 2010 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Education and the Commercial Mindset

Samuel E. Abrams

“In Education and the Commercial Mindset, Abrams provides a detailed, informative and insightful account of the rise and fall of The Edison Project, as a case study of for-profit schools… Abrams demonstrates that for-profit schools have no incentives to consider long term educational or social goals. Obsessed with achievement metrics that might persuade consumers to purchase their product, they often exclude students with cognitive, emotional or behavioral problems. Or with failing grades… Running schools like businesses won’t solve the problem.”—Glenn C. Altschuler, The Huffington Post

“[An] outstanding book.”—Valerie Strauss, The Washington Post

Minds Online: Teaching Effectively with Technology

Michelle D. Miller

“If you teach with technology in any form, at any level, I recommend you put this book at the top of your tottering pile of required reading on higher education. It’s an outstanding book that provides a road map for truly effective online teaching. What distinguishes [Miller’s] book from much of the research available on teaching with technology, and pushes it beyond arguments about improving access, is her emphasis on the ways in which online teaching tools can actually improve learning for all students—not just those who have no access to traditional face-to-face classrooms.”—James Lang, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning

Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel

Honorable Mention, 2015 PROSE Award, Education Theory category, Association of American Publishers • A Chronicle of Higher Education “Top 10 Books on Teaching” Selection, 2014

“If you want to read a lively and engaging book on the science of learning, this is a must… Make It Stick benefits greatly from its use of stories about people who have achieved mastery of complex knowledge and skills. Over the course of the book, the authors weave together stories from an array of learners—surgeons, pilots, gardeners, and school and university students—to illustrate their arguments about how successful learning takes place… This is a rich and resonant book and a pleasurable read that will leave you pondering the processes through which you, and your students, acquire new knowledge and skills.”—Hazel Christie, Times Higher Education

No Citizen Left Behind

Meira Levinson

2014 NASSP Book Award, North American Society for Social Philosophy • 2013 AESA Critics’ Choice Award, American Educational Studies Association • 2013 Michael Harrington Book Award, New Political Science Section of the American Political Science Association • Co-Winner, 2013 Exemplary Research in Social Studies Award, National Council for the Social Studies

“Levinson advocates restoring civic education, which gives young people insights into the workings of the American political system, to the educational curriculum on a national scale. She believes that ensuring all students receive the same civic education would strengthen our country and cause more citizens to take an active role in its government… The experiences and research Levinson shares have the potential to produce a national ‘aha’ moment.”—Terry Christner, Library Journal

What the Best College Students Do

Ken Bain

“Some very good books are worth reading for a few splendid pages alone. Ken Bain’s What the Best College Students Do is one such book… [It] combines interviews with a review of academic research on university learning… The ‘best’ students are curious risk-takers who make connections across disciplines. By following those instincts—rather than simply chasing ‘success’—the best students achieved it. Bain’s new book is a wonderful exploration of excellence.”—David A. Kaplan, Fortune

Measurement

Paul Lockhart

A Choice Outstanding Academic Title, 2013

“Lockhart is famous in the math world for a 2002 essay about the state of mathematics teaching. He described it as akin to teaching music by forcing children to transcribe notation without ever touching an instrument or singing. Measurement is his attempt to change the equation: a conversational book about mathematics as an art that invites the reader to join in the fun. Sounding every bit the teacher whose love for his subject is infectious, he guides us through exercises in geometry and calculus—giving information and hints along the way while always encouraging us to ask, and answer, ‘Why?’ Lockhart does not try to make math seem easy; instead he wants his readers to understand that the difficulty brings rewards.”—Evelyn Lamb, Scientific American

Trusting What You’re Told: How Children Learn from Others

Paul L. Harris

Co-winner, 2014 Eleanor Maccoby Book Award, American Psychological Association (Division 7, Developmental Psychology) • 2013 Book Award, Cognitive Development Society

“Harris argues that the longstanding idea that kids should be self-learners who gain knowledge mainly from their own explorations and observations is flawed… Harris’ book explores lots of interesting ideas, including the impact of a mother’s level of education on a child’s inquisitiveness and why kids trust what they learn from their parents.”
—Julie Rasicot, Education Week

Dropping Out: Why Students Drop Out of High School and What Can Be Done About It

Russell W. Rumberger

“The most complete examination of the dropout issue I have ever seen… Rumberger examines every complex nuance, summarizes every important research paper and demolishes every Internet myth. His book is a masterpiece, something education wonks will keep close by… We can’t make any improvements, however, without knowing what hasn’t helped dropouts, and why. On those vital questions, this book will be the best resource for years to come.”
—Jay Mathews, The Washington Post

Teaching What You Don’t Know

Therese Huston

Finalist, 2009 ForeWord Book of the Year Award, Education Category

“The hints and tips provided here will be valuable perhaps everywhere that there is a higher education system… Teaching What You Don’t Know will find a good audience as a rescue manual for the young, as it assuages the anxieties facing the postgraduate or the postdoctoral teacher. The book, which clearly draws on a wide range of teaching experience on the U.S. scene, offers good advice and outlines some useful strategies. Huston does, moreover, dig up issues that have become ever more pressing over the past few years.”—Leslie Gofton, Times Higher Education

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