By STEPHANIE LING
When a child first attempts to stand upright, then falls, he never pauses to think, “Perhaps standing up just isn’t for me.”
Instead, the child will try again and again until he succeeds.
Society would never say that a young child failed at something. Instead, they would say things like, “He’ll learn how to stand in no time!”
When we were younger, our views on learning from failure were always positive.
What changed as we got older? Why do the same processes start to be perceived negatively?
Failing vs being a failure
There is a difference between failing and being a failure. The act of failing relates to the event itself whereas being a failure is closely related to one’s mindset.
Take Jack Ma for instance. Ma is the founder and chief executive officer of Alibaba Group, one of the world’s biggest e-commerce companies with a net worth of US$200bil (RM820bil).
Did you know that Ma wrote to Harvard a total of 10 times and was rejected every single time? Did you know: he was also rejected from all 30 jobs he applied for—and that included an application to a fast food joint?
Ma has failed many, many times in his life, but he was never a failure. There is certainly something to be said about Ma’s perseverance.
He embraced failures and took them as learning opportunities rather than treating them as the end of learning and because of that, he did not hold himself captive to his beliefs.
Instead, he used it as motivation to work even harder than anyone else and to push for what he believed he could do.
Failure leads to more failure?
It seems crazy to think that failure could lead to more failure. But sometimes, this happens.
People become so afraid of failing again that they end up making more mistakes than they would have otherwise.
A little pressure is good as it keeps one motivated to perform at one’s best but too much pressure can result in subpar performance.
Youths are at that age of trying to find their place in society as well as to leave their mark in the world and we should allow for them to make such mistakes. We learn best from failing because we can draw lessons from such an experience.
Leading your own life
Leaderonomics Club is our effort to drive improvement in leadership and performance within the secondary school system. How does leadership come into the picture?
In learning how to exercise leadership skills over our own thoughts and actions, we are better able to focus on the process and to learn how to make the best of any grim situation.
With Leaderonomics Club, we provide youths with this safe platform to learn and to seek support from.
Failing is an option
The essence of what Leaderonomics Club has to offer is our content. It focuses on character traits and values that we believe are the basic building blocks of great leadership.
Our five-year curriculum covers 49 traits and these include traits like diligence, compassion and forgiveness.
In exploring these traits, we employ various methods that include discussions, experiential learning, as well as real-life situations and challenges.
It is during these experiential learning segments that we allow for the youths to be empowered as well as to inspire their fellow peers. Each club member is given the opportunity to share and express his or her opinions freely in a safe environment with the guidance of experienced facilitators.
These discussions lead to the ultimate goal of building a community of leaders and to, ultimately, transform the nation.
Hence, as part of the club’s programme, members are required to organise community projects to help improve the condition of the communities around them. This can range from organising communal work to awareness campaigns.
It is never an easy process getting the buy-in from your principal or schoolmates when it comes to sharing new ideas.
It is through this M.A.D. (Making a Difference) projects that members may experience failure, be it in terms of planning or even execution. As facilitators, we use this experience to reinforce their theoretical learnings.
We provide them with the platform to share their frustrations; we also teach them how to embrace their failures and to learn from them rather than to actively avoid trying again.
Here at Leaderonomics Club, we always strive to help our youths realise their talents and potential and to guide them towards self-discovery.
Even if that includes them facing some setbacks and failures along the way, we make an intentional effort to teach them that it is not wrong to fail. As long as you don’t let it hold you back, you’ll just have to learn from it and move on.
Stephanie Ling is part of Leaderonomics Youth and is currently under the Clubs initiative. Her personal passion lies in developing all-rounded youths who are able to impact their communities. Occasionally, she can be seen engaging in sun salutations and headstand poses during her leisure time. To engage with Stephanie, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Starting Young articles, click here.
We have eight clubs working together in preparation for our annual LEAD Convention. The LEAD Convention was initiated last year to provide a platform for youth leaders to share about their M.A.D. projects as well as to share about their struggles and learning points.
Also, they will get the opportunity to encourage other schools or clubs to adopt their projects in their own communities.
This year’s convention will be held on June 25 in Methodist Girls School, Kuala Lumpur. This year’s theme, “Age Will Not Define Us,” brings the meaning that age in itself does not and should not limit one from achieving his/her leadership potential.
It is a half-day event that will include inspirational speaker sessions, M.A.D. Project sharing, performances as well as refreshments.
If you are a youth or parent who is interested to find out how our youths have been making a difference in their communities, get your tickets here at:
Stephanie is currently pursuing her masters of organisational psychology at the University of Sheffield. Being a firm believer in a person’s potential, she hopes to help others use that potential to make a difference in their own lives.