Share This Post

Opinion / Partnerships and Building Relationships / Program Design, Development, and Quality / Staff Leadership and Management

Redefining Failure: Event vs. Identity

Redefining Failure: Event vs. Identity

This blog was first published on the MCUVO!CE website and is being republished with permission from Breakfast Club Blogger Marcus Strother.


“I’ve failed over and over and over in my life… And that is why I succeed.”
-Michael Jordan

The statement offers a power that most of us miss. The greatest painter, singer, basketball player, educator, etc. has failed multiple times and yet in our schools, we have yet to begin teaching our young people the power in failure and resiliency. In my educational career, I have failed. There are a multitude of children that did not learn some lesson from me. There are moments where I have failed to teach my sons or daughter how to do the right thing and yet, I know that I must still be a father to my children.

How do we teach our young people resiliency in the face of adversity? I offer this as a potential beginning to the solution.

We must first begin by teaching our young people the difference between failure and failing. When we can get our young people to understand the difference between these two situations, we will then be able to teach them how to be resilient in the event of failing.

Failing, in its very natural form, is just an event. In any given basketball or football game, failing occurs. It’s over and then it comes around again. There is always someone who fails at winning the game. Our young people will fail a test. They will fail homework. As educators, we will fail a student or two down the line, but it is only when we don’t get back on the field or court–if we don’t retake the test, that that event then becomes who we are. In that moment that failure becomes an identity.

I had the great opportunity of meeting the man who inspired me to write this piece. He shared that he has completed 23 races as a professional runner. During his career, he has lost 19 of those races. Through the losses, he never stopped training harder for the next race. He never allowed the loss to shape his identity.

“You may be smarter than me, better looking than me and even a better actor than me,
but you will not outwork me!” -Will Smith

What is needed to help build this resiliency in our young people today? The young runner I met spoke about how his determination to achieve kept him working–and now Meb Keflezighi can call himself a 4-time champion and the 2014 Boston Marathon winner. I encourage our readers to recognize that failing is a part of life, but it’s only when we do not get up and do it again that the event of failing becomes the identity of failure!

For breakfast, I had oatmeal and eggs. 

Author: @marcus

Share This Post

Leave a Reply