Thank you – For Increasing My Courage To Fail!

That’s my epiphany of the day.

I need to take bigger risks without minding so much if I fail at them. It’s hard because, quite frankly, I do mind. I think it’s important to be in a place where you can fail ‘safely’. This all stems from the idea of academic competition and not letting your weaknesses show. Today, for example, I was struggling with a particular aspect of written formatting that I probably should have learned years and years ago (and maybe I did), so I had to muster the courage to just say to a professor, “Wait a sec. I really don’t know”. I risked looking like an idiot, and I’m happy I did because I walked away knowing the answer.

Sometimes I forget that ignorance is okay if its mixed with curiosity and the ambition to change. The other part of me just smacks myself on the head for not knowing. I’m reminded that the largest proponent of a successful education is the desire to self-educate. That’s more than half the battle. The rest is just having access to resources and knowing how to use them.

And now back to writing and listening…



  1. Amen! Part of the educator’s job is to create an environment in which failure is acceptable, even encouraged, for all of the reasons you mention here.

  2. Yes, much like Mr. Hand in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, academia is a very bad offender in its tendency to sneer at the “I don’t know.” And that whole format thing — no one ever knows!

    When I was teaching, my inspiration for not apologizing was the comedian Eddie Izzard, who has a brilliant way of fudging when he forgets a date. And when I had to fake being sure (which you do, sometimes) I just pretended I was Stephen Colbert. Worked like a charm. Anyway, the point is, just say the “I don’t know” with so much breezy confidence that no one can say anything!

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