Tomorrow is Independence Day, and I hope you will have the day off and have some time for fun and fellowship with family and friends. I sat next to two young Marines on a flight home from my first New Student Reception of the season, and seeing these two young men made me stop and think about our country, what independence really means, and about all those who serve our country (if you are one, thank you!)
Since I was thinking deep thoughts, I wanted to pass on something I saw from the New York Times the other day. It was posted on Facebook by a faculty friend of mine, and it is about failure and how college students are particularly fearful of it. It’s a good read: On Campus, Failure is On the Syllabus.
A couple of years ago I did a Daily Deac on failure, and it was one of our most commented-upon posts ever. If you want to take a look at it, here is the link.
One of the interesting student observations I have made over the years is that many of our students look at their parents or family members (or other trusted adults) and think not exactly that you are perfect, but that more often than not you have done everything right. And our students feel a certain amount of doubt as to whether they will be able to live up to your success, whether that is in career or love or family or wealth or whatever. They are afraid they will not be as good.
What they don’t realize, of course, is that ALL of us have failed at something. Whether career or love or family or money or whatever. They only see you as you are now, not as the person who may have – say – failed a class, or disappointed your own parents, or gotten laid off or even fired.
It would help your Deacs tremendously to know about a time you have failed. That will help your sons and daughters know that you are human, it is possible to fail and then rebound to something better. It helps normalize the process.
So as you have the opportunity to sit down and talk with your Deacs, whether that is tomorrow or some other time this summer, talk to them about a time you have failed. It doesn’t need to be a lecture, it needs to be an open, vulnerable conversation that helps them put into perspective that a failure doesn’t equal a catastrophe – and that even the people they love most have failed, and recovered. And if they know that you understand mistakes happen, and sometimes they will fail and you will still love them just the same, it might add a level of security and resilience to your Deacs that will help them grow into better adults, ones that are capable of taking [smart] risks because that is how they will grow.
Just a thought. Do with it what you will.
As a reminder, we are closed tomorrow for Independence Day, so no Daily Deac tomorrow.
Finally, wanted to give a shout out to my new Deac families in the Bay Area – many thanks for your wonderful company at our New Student Reception! My next stops are in Phili next Sunday, Larchmont, NY next Tuesday, and Short Hills, NJ next Wednesday. If you’re headed to those receptions, I look forward to meeting you – and if you are a P’21 family and there is one in your area, hope you will sign up 🙂