Tag Archives: Failure

On Being Savagely Successful

Only through failure can we learn to succeed.

While I believe that’s one of the most important life lessons we can learn, it’s all to often overlooked when we, as parents, attempt to shelter our little dudes and dudettes from this sort of thing, to ensure a failure-free lifetime for our spawn.

The problem with that plan is that it ensures the growth of a no-longer-child who cannot cope with setbacks, who doesn’t know how to learn from mistakes, use that knowledge to correct his or her errors and move on to the next aspect of his or her life. Those of us of the adult persuasion understand that learning from our mistakes so we don’t make them again is essential in just about every aspect of our daily existence.

Folks shouldn’t look at failure as a bad outcome, as long as they contain the persistence to continue working toward the goal they, at first, didn’t attain. Heck, listen to huckster and part-time inventor Thomas Alva Edison: I didn’t fail ten thousand times. I successfully eliminated, ten thousand times, materials and combinations which wouldn’t work.

Adam Savage is a Maker, sort-of scientist and best known as co-host of Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters series. Yesterday, I ran a list of his 10 rules for success. One of those rules said — simply — fail.

If you’ve ever watched Mythbusters, you know one of his sayings is that “Failure is always an option.” He’s not a defeatist, rather he understands that by examining why something failed and how it failed, he can apply those lessons to make the endeavor succeed.

Another of his rules that I particularly like would have to be: If you want something, ASK. I’ve a feeling this should be self-explanatory, but, for too many dudes and dudettes, this completely escapes them.

Too many people seem to believe that their only choices are the ones actually offered to them. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

One of the most important lessons that Zippy the College Boy learned in high school and that, hopefully, Hyper Lad will learn now that he’s attending the same high school, is to self advocate. Which means, in a nutshell, ask for what you want.

If you don’t understand something in class, ask the teacher for clarification. If you still don’t get it, don’t worry. Just keep asking and trying until you do.

If you see someone doing something cool? Ask them how they did it, how they learned it? Where can you learn it?

Looking at Savage’s list, I think the most important thing you can take away from it is that you should approach life as a participatory sport, rather than something you should watch happen.

Get involved! Get motivated!

Work, as Savage said, your ass off to achieve your goals. If you don’t have what you need to accomplish those goals, don’t collapse into a weeping pile of angst. Ask for help. Get what you need, practice the new skills and get good. Then go out and accomplish your goals.

Success takes more than just hard work and diligence, but you can’t succeed without either of them.

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Give Your Little Dude A Brain Boost By Keeping A Set Bedtime

It’s always nice to be proven right, even if it is a bit after the fact.

See, when the little dudes were still babies, I insisted that they have a specific bedtime that, some might consider, a bit early. The way I saw it, an early bedtime for the little dudes meant a bit more decompression time for their dad and mom. That made for less-cranky all around, both for them and for us.

A new study has come out saying that, not only were we right, but that we also gave the little dudes a significant brain boost thanks to that bedtime decision. I pulled the following from an article by Todd Neale, from Medpage Today, a continuing medical education effort from the Perelman School of Medication at the University of Pennsylvania.

A regular bedtime may be important for the cognitive development of young children, researchers found. 

The effect appeared to accumulate, because a failure to go to bed at a regular time at multiple time points in the first 7 years of life was associated with lower cognitive scores for both boys and girls, the researchers reported online in theJournal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

Not going to bed on a schedule “could have important ramifications, as when sleep is restricted or disrupted symptoms that reflect a reduced capacity for plastic change [in the brain] and/or disrupted circadian rhythms follow, including cognitive impairment and lack of concentration,” they wrote.

The study included more than 11,000 children age 7 who lived in the U.K. but the researchers consider the data to be valid for children living everywhere. Not going to bed at the same time each night, researchers found, contributes greatly to a significantly reduced cognitive ability.

Among girls, those who did not have a regular bedtime at ages 3, 5, and 7 had significantly lower scores for reading (beta -0.36), math (beta -0.51), and spatial abilities (beta -0.40) at age 7.

And among boys, those who did not have a regular bedtime at any two of those ages had significantly lower scores for reading (beta -0.28), math (beta -0.22), and spatial abilities (beta -0.26) at age 7.

That is not good, dudes. Not good at all.

While the researchers acknowledge that there are some bits to their methodology that need sprucing up — no data on weekend bedtimes, for example — they’re pretty confident in their results.

“Thus,” the researchers wrote, “our results suggest that having a regular bedtime is important alongside other aspects of family circumstances.”

There’s some more good information at the site, so I’d suggest you head over there for a while to read the story. It’s not all that long, but, if you need convincing, it’s important information to have.

I’m glad to have this study. I’ve long felt like we were voices howling in the wilderness when it came to bedtime. I know so many other parents who put their little dudes and dudettes to bed whenever they felt like it on different nights. I’ve always thought that was far too lax, an example of the parent wanting their child to like them, so they let the children set the bedtime.

The reason we’re the ones in charge is that we’re old enough to see that sometimes what we want isn’t what we need. And also we know when it’s time to go.

Speaking of which. . .


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Why Do We Fall?

by Richard

Batman has a lot to teach dudes everywhere. No, seriously. Let me ‘splain.

I was watching the fantastic movie Batman Begins with the young dudes the other night, as we are wont to do when there isn’t anything fantastic on the television some nights. Also when I want to squeeze in a little more of that quickly disappearing Sarcasmo-time before he’s running shrieking away from home and toward college.

So, we were watching Batman Begins and we got to the part where young Bruce Wayne (who will grow to become Batman, for those of you Batman-impaired out there) is rescued from the well into which he’s fallen by his father, Thomas Wayne. This is, of course, before the young Bruce’s idyll and wonderful life is shattered forever by the avaricious Joe Chill and his handgun.

Thomas, like all good dads, even billionaire/philanthropist/surgeon/icon dude dads (as we all are [at least in our own minds that is]), Thomas Wayne uses the close call, the near scrape with death or at least bone-breakingly difficult damage, to teach young Bruce a lesson in life.

Young Bruce Wayne is rescued from the well by his father — pulled literally out of darkness into light — when Thomas asks and answers his own question in a tidy little aphorism. “Why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”

And, honestly, that’s some pretty profound sh– stuff right there. Think about it for a bit, dudes. As young kids (and for many of us this is up until right about the time we retire), we’re not the type to believe anything unless it happens to us. Sure, Mom and Dad said the stove burner was hot when it turned red, but it doesn’t really hit home until we reach out our pudgy little fingers, touch the heating element and then start screaming bloody murder because, hey, that thing’s hot! Why didn’t anyone tell us?

It’s the same throughout our lives in all different areas. People tell us that studying only the night before a test won’t get us good grades, but we don’t believe it until that second or third F. (That first one or two could have been coincidence.) We have to learn to deal with setbacks the same way.

If all we ever encountered in life was a series of unending progress, never failing or doing less than the best, we’d never be prepared for the first time life threw us a curveball.

As parents, our natural instinct is to always protect our young dudes from the cruel world just outside the window. But, as parents, we also know that we have to let the young dudes learn for themselves and learn by failing. Because, you see, that’s when the important lesson starts.

To put it in cowboyese, you’ve got to learn to get back up on that horse once you’ve been thrown. One failure does not mean the end of the line. Only the end of that attempt. We have to learn for ourselves that it is possible and preferable to stand on our own, dust off our metaphorical pants and get back to work.

Why do we fall? So we can learn to get back up.

Wise words from Batman. Learn them. Live them.

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