Wisdom Begins with Wonder

Learning from failure

Failure is an unavoidable part of life. We will all fail, what separates us is our response to failure. Those who learn from failure and grow are much more successful than those who avoid failure by limiting their risk. In fact, failure is often a byproduct of inaction – yet failure from inaction is harder to learn from because there is no attempt to learn from!

This is where my failure comes in.

I rarely failed academically from kindergarten through 12th grade. In fact, school was always a breeze for me. I would do little or no studying, wait until the last minute for papers and projects, and nearly always pull off some of the best work in class. In fact, I often even dumbed myself down on purpose to not stick out from my peers so much.

Now I know I was a classic example of a student with a fixed mindset. I was "smart." My self image was completely predicated upon this "fact."

This all came to a head when I went to the University of Washington. My first 2 quarters were a breeze and my bad study habits weren't a problem – Dean's List in my sleep.

I became more involved socially and less involved academically.

Finally, spring quarter of my freshman year brought with it too many parties, too little studying, and a 2.3 GPA.

Suddenly I was getting into harder classes – pre-med classes with highly motivated peers. I quickly realized that I was behind in many ways: motivation, study skills, background knowledge, etc.

The story would be more dramatic if I flunked out of college. The sad reality of it is that I just never really caught up with my peers. I was always a year or two behind in study skills and dedication. I graduated with a 3.05 GPA that, while not a disaster, was not up to my standards.

I also know now that a big part of my lack of motivation came from a lack of direction. I went to college thinking I wanted to be a doctor but quickly grew disillusioned with that path . The problem is, I didn't have a backup plan.

So I coasted. I took all of the pre-med classes and actually enjoyed many of them. I just didn't have the drive that many of my peers had to get high grades.

Another thing I know believe is that I was always called to teach. I can remember strongly considering it in high school and then quickly dismissing the idea. Why? Teachers don't make enough money. That was truly my main reason.

Obviously, now I know that was a poor factor to base a decision on. However, it was really important to me at the time.

How have I turned this failure into success?

Knowing as much as I now do about the medical industry in America, I KNOW I would be unhappy as a doctor; maybe even miserable. I would feel trapped in that field by debt and expectations.

I genuinely love teaching.

I am happy to go to work every day (almost – you know we all have THOSE days).

I wouldn't trade that for anything.


2 comments ↓

  • #   Ed on 07.08.11 at 10:25 pm     

    Ah! finding out more of your story :-)
    I think the best teachers were ‘born to teach’. doesn’t surprise me you’re one of them.


  • #   Mr. Rice on 07.14.11 at 3:48 pm     

    I don’t know if I was born to teach but I certainly would have come to it a lot sooner if I was more mature as a teenager.

    Of course, how many of us make mature decisions as teenagers?

    Exactly…


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