When I walked into the house a few days ago, my granddaughter Isla was juggling scarves. Her third-grade class had been learning to juggle in gym class. Because the floating scarves were easier to catch, she was doing quite well. Knowing her natural desire to try difficult things, I suggested that she try juggling tennis balls.

For the next ten minutes she spent more time picking tennis balls up from the floor than she did catching them. Twenty minutes later she was still picking balls up from the floor, but not as many. “Why are you getting better?” I asked.

“Because I’m practicing,” she said.

“Yes,” I said. “Practicing is being willing to fail in order to get better.”

Think about that for a moment. Are kids and adults willing to practice? Are they willing to fail in order to get better?

Our experiences around making mistakes and failing develop a mindset that has huge implications regarding whether or not we succeed.

Thomas Edison’s mindset is illustrated in this one sentence:

The Wright brothers shared a similar mindset. Their first planned flight had to be delayed for weeks due to broken propeller shafts during engine tests. Wilbur’s first attempt on December 14, 1903, stalled after takeoff, causing minor damage to the plane. Following repairs three days later, in what is considered to be the first flight, Orville kept the plane in the air for 12 seconds. Then what? The plane went down. Like Isla, Orville and Wilbur tried again and again. They practiced failing so they were able to succeed.

We ought to celebrate a national holiday called Failure Day. Our nation has developed because men and women have been willing to take risks, fail, make mistakes, and learn how to accomplish some incredible things.

By doing so, we may be able to shift from a common mindset of “If I fail, I am a failure” to a mindset of “I am practicing and willing to fail in order to succeed.”


  • When have I been reluctant or seen others reluctant to practice because of a mindset that feared failure?
  • What do I need to do to develop a mindset in myself or others that embraces practice and failure in order to succeed.

From our team…Willow, Kevin, and Tom…whose practice and failure has led to success.

Paul Bernabei
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