I'm grateful two friends took me in when I lost power after Hurricane Sandy. Yet the challenge of unpacking and finding places to put my belongings made me I'm glad I know mistakes lead to success. Marc Smith** wrote about students who believe they have control over how successful they will be. These students "view failure as a temporary stop on the way to success." Instead of trying to hide failure to avoid embarrassment, they figure out what caused the failure and do better the next time
Having a positive attitude towards failure turns out to be valuable in the real world as well as school.
Atul Gawande** wrote about hospitals that have a superior survival rate after surgery. Research at the University of Michigan showed that good and bad hospitals had the same number of complications after surgery. What the best hospitals did was have better plans for dealing with unexpected complications. Gawande said accepting that you need a new plan when things fail is one of the hardest things to do. The best hospitals save more lives by being better prepared for failure.
I prepare for failure by rehearsing. I know from my travel experience that I will put my bottle of shampoo in the wrong place in an unfamiliar bathroom. I know I will have to experiment with how far away from the shower head I need to place my folding shower stool. So I took a shower at my friend's house in the middle of the afternoon when I didn't need to be ready for anything. On my first attempt I was slow and made several mistakes. I won't lie and say this wasn't frustrating. But experience has taught me that the second time I took a shower at my friend's house I would be faster and make fewer mistakes.
To be honest I have to rehearse more times than I did before my stroke, but rehearsal gives me a positive attitude towards failure. When people are amazed by how well I do I don't tell them I rehearse.
**Atul Gawande, Failure and rescue, newyorker.com.online/blogs/newdesk/2012/06.
**Marc Smith, Why olympians and A-level students all need to fail, guardian.co.uk/teacher-