1. Teacher Life

Permanent Failure or Temporary Learning?

This blog post is part of my personal challenge to take one quote from this beginning of the year compilation and dive deeper into what the quote means to me! This would be a great challenge for not only someone diving into blogging, but it could also be great for a podcast challenge as well. It would also be great for student prompts as well!

Check out the quotes from the January 2022 post, and if you decide to write or talk about one of them in-depth, please feel free to tag me on Instagram or Twitter (or both) to share your learning!

On to this week’s post!

I have always struggled with the concept of “embracing failure” in education.

Here is a story I shared about this concept from “The Innovator’s Mindset“:

“A mantra that’s often repeated when we talk about innovation in education is that failure is an important part of the process. In some respects, it’s true.

Unfortunately, this line of thinking can place a focus on the wrong aspect of the process. Those who stress the importance of failure as part of the innovation process tend to focus on failure.

They’ll point to stories about inventors like James Dyson, the inventor of the Dyson vacuum. Dyson “spent fifteen years creating 5,126 versions that failed before he made one that worked.”

Trying, failing, and trying again were definitely part of his process.

But the reality of his story is that no one would even mention James Dyson if he hadn’t succeeded in the end. How many other vacuum inventors can you name? Maybe one or two. But how many vacuum inventors can you name who never successfully got a vacuum on the market?


Now, is failure an inevitable part of life? Of course.

Are there times where we should entirely give up on things? Yup.

But for me, the ability to learn from failure so we can either move on, move forward, and get better, is ultimately the focus.

Take, for example, this quote from Napoleon Hill:

I want you to focus on the word “temporary.”

For me, failure ultimately comes when we see the defeat as “permanent” rather than temporary. 

But are their permanent failures in life? Of course!

A bad relationship can permanently end.  

That particular relationship can end, but what you learned from that experience and apply to your next relationship is what makes the act of having a failed relationship temporary rather than permanent.

The same can be said with our careers.

We can permanently leave a job or career altogether. If we don’t learn from what didn’t work, the failure can become permanent, even in a new phase of our lives.

My health journey is an example of this mentality. If I gave up after not seeing results for every program or changed diet, I would not be in a space today where I feel I have found success. Failure only becomes permanent if we choose not to learn from what did and didn’t work.

I can easily get caught up in things that didn’t work in my life and what I am trying to get better at is learning from those lessons to make the future better than the past. That’s how you make defeat a “temporary learning lesson.”

Failure is only permanent if we choose not to learn from it.


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