I was watching the cutest video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qENMEyeP_No) of a baby trying to walk. The little girl is encircled by several members of her loving family and she is obviously the star of the show. Wearing only a diaper, which eventually falls off, she sits on the floor and tries to get up on her feet. Her knees wobble and she rocks back and forth before landing on her diaper. She tries several more times as her family applauds her efforts and laughs with delight. At some point, the baby begins to laugh and applaud as well, as she is having a good time and enjoying the attention and support. The baby keeps trying, and failing, to get up on her feet. Eventually, she does it and is able to take her first few steps. In no time, she will be running.
So what can the baby do that so many of us can’t. She can fail. She can try and try again, failure after failure. What happens when she fails? Her family support her, cheer her on, motivate her to keep trying. The baby sees that it is OK to fail. It is even expected that she will fail. She has the love and support of her family. She can put failure behind her and try again.
I’m certain that about 62 years ago, I went through a similar experience. Since I am walking today, I must assume that I mastered the art of failing and getting up again. I’m pretty sure I did this with a bicycle too, evolving from trike to training wheels to bike. Skinned knees and elbows be damned. I can do this.
Something changed as I grew older. Failure meant bad grades. Failure meant being rejected by your #1 school. Failure meant not getting a job or losing a job. Failure meant being a bad spouse or parent. Failure was no longer accompanied by laughs and applause. As a baby, I wasn’t afraid to fail. By the time I was in first grade, I was. What happened to me? Was it social pressure? Were the stakes higher? Was I told not to fail? I really don’t know.
But sometimes it would be nice to laugh and applaud when I fail.