“Why do you keep picking on us Mr. McShain?”

Hassan didn’t look frustrated or angry. It was just an observation. And it wasn’t the kind of “picking on” one would think of. The kind that is often met with an anti-bullying speech and respectful teamwork jargon. The “picking on” that he was speaking about was literally that. I had picked on their team two times as an example. His group had been highlighted. The first time they were highlighted for their failure. The second? For their success.

But he didn’t see the success.

That’s usually how it goes. We as human beings care much more about our successes than our failures… but it should be the opposite. Our failures help us to understand where we can improve far better than our successes. Take an article from the Stanford Business journal. In the article “What were missing when we study success“, Marina Krakovsky points to businesses that focused solely on their strengths, like Kodak and Xerox, and how they inevitably suffered because of it. She goes on to say…

“If you want to learn the secrets of success, it seems perfectly reasonable to study successful people and organizations. But the research of Jerker Denrell, an associate professor of organizational behavior, suggests that studying successes without also looking at failures tends to create a misleading — if not entirely wrong — picture of what it takes to succeed.”

Marina Krakovsky

It’s a simple picture of success. We need a balance of focus. But I would argue that our focus needs to be more on the areas of improvement, especially with children, but in a very positive way. You do children need to know it is ok to fail and that we don’t see their failure as a negative thing. If we encourage failure more than success, because of the learning that takes place, we switch the focus from success to growth. And that is the goal of any teacher worth their weight – to foster growth.