Losing Is the New Winning

The Atlantic:

Now is the time for all good men to fail. Good women, too. Fail early and often, and don’t be shy about admitting it. Failing isn’t shameful; it’s not even failure. Such is the message of a growing body of self-help and leadership literature. “Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them?” asks the Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, in which she argues that a willingness to court failure can be a precursor to growth. Dweck holds, persuasively, that successful people are not the ones who cultivate a veneer of perfection, but rather those who understand that failing is part of getting smarter and better.

The same point is made in Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly (a best seller that borrows its title from Teddy Roosevelt’s exhortation that when you fail, the important thing is to do it while “daring greatly”); Tim Harford’s Adapt: Why Success Always Starts With Failure; Kathryn Schulz’s Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error; and Brilliant Blunders, Mario Livio’s tour of “colossal” scientific mistakes that led to breakthroughs. Next spring, Sarah Lewis’s forthcoming book, The Rise: Creativity, Mastery, and the Gift of Failure, will reflect on “flops, folds, setbacks, wipeouts and hiccups,” and the “dynamism” they inspire. The failure fetish is even finding its way into modern parenting. Reacting against the tendency to cushion children with coaches and tutors, authors like Po Bronson, Paul Tough, and Wendy Mogel argue that we need to allow our children to fail, because struggle builds resilience and grit. Meanwhile, in Silicon Valley, the ability to speak perceptively and candidly about one’s past failures has practically become a job qualification. A prospective employee (or an applicant for venture-capital funding) who has survived a failed start-up is someone who has learned valuable lessons on someone else’s dime.

Read the whole story: The Atlantic

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