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View as: GRID LIST

LET THEM FAIL

1
About 6 months before my 30th birthday I chucked in my full job to run my own company. Escaping the Dilbert cube and becoming my own boss has been a mixed bag of ups and downs that I wouldn’t trade for the world. It’s been the most difficult thing I have ever done, but also the most rewarding.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but something about running my own business has made me rather reflective on my life. I think a lot about my patterns of behaviour and what makes me tick. I think about what keeps me motivated and what tells me to stop

SelfishMother.com
2
working when know I could work 24 hours a day (but still feel like I haven’t done enough). I think constantly about what’s really important to my life.

I regularly reflect on my childhood and my formative years to try and figure out what experiences or beliefs have helped to shape who I am. The thing that keeps coming up is a belief that it’s ok to fail, and how this was instilled in me as a child. It’s definitely a work in progress and when things don’t work out, it can be disappointing, upsetting or incredibly painful. But I’m constantly

SelfishMother.com
3
working on becoming better with it and know how important it is.

I should mention that I don’t have any kids of my own. I have been with my wonderful girlfriend for nearly 4 years but we don’t have any little ones running around just yet. My comments are coming from what I have experienced as a child, rather than as a parent. But one of the things I’m sure I’m going to do when I do have children is to let them fail.

I work as a nutritionist and have a special interest in working with people with food and body image issues. The one thing

SelfishMother.com
4
that nearly all these people have in common is that they are perfectionists. In all areas of their lives they are trying to be absolutely mistake-free. When everything else is going to shit, at least they can exercise to the point of fatigue or restrict what they are eating in their pursuit of perfection.

One of the first things that I do when working with these people is get them to realise it is ok to make mistakes. I explain that their blips are how they learn about themselves; that striving for perfection is an impossibility and is actually

SelfishMother.com
5
creating their problem behaviour, and not supporting them like they believe it to be. I let them know that every last piece of food that they eat doesn’t define who they are as a person.

Running my own business, I also know how common failure is. For every idea that works, there are a dozen others that don’t. Being resilient and ok with this is the only way to survive, otherwise I would’ve thrown the towel in well before anything of any good was created.

The word failure has so many negative connotations associated with it. The thought of

SelfishMother.com
6
‘letting your kids fail’ sounds horrible and cruel. But I don’t think there should be this negative stigma attached to the word.

Failing is really just learning how to do something differently. It is feedback that what you are doing isn’t quite right and needs to be changed or improved.

When everything is going right, it is hard to learn from the experience. It feels like you have the midas touch but you don’t really know why. But when things don’t work out, this is when you really have an opportunity to understand. You have to analyse

SelfishMother.com
7
the situation and try and figure it out.

When I think about my life, I’ve been incredibly lucky but I’ve experienced my fair share of failures and things not working out as I had hoped. Things are always relative and while I may not know what it is like to have things completely fall apart and I end up homeless or in jail, when things have failed it still hurts. But it is out of these tough times that I have learned the most. The most about myself, but also what I consider most important in life.

My ability to be ok with failure has a lot to do

SelfishMother.com
8
with my parents and how I was raised. And this is what I want to pass on to my kids (when I have them). I always felt totally supported by them in terms of letting me do and pursue whatever I wanted to. But at the same time they would allow me to get on with things on my own. Yes they were (and are) continually interested, but they didn’t want to interfere. They knew that I would only learn by being allowed to make my own mistakes; it’s one thing to be told something but another to experience it.

My mum is on my mailing list and I sent out an

SelfishMother.com
9
email recently. She sent me a response that I want to share below, as it was her email that prompted me to write this article.

“I think the most important thing in life is resilience. Bad things will happen, things won’t always work out no matter how well planned and executed and you just need to be able to move on – without blame or recrimination. Of course this is all tied up with belief in yourself and others belief in you. But I see parents now constantly telling their children how wonderful they are, and how clever they are for the smallest of

SelfishMother.com
10
things. I don’t think it builds strength and it must be more difficult for those children to realise when they get to school that they are just one of several ’very clever’ little people. We need to make them resilient so that when they do find things aren’t all going their way, that they can cope.” 

If I reflect on the lessons learned from my own parents, it’s about getting that balance right between being totally supportive on one hand, and allowing children to fail on the other. Knowing that if you want the best for them, you can’t

SelfishMother.com
11
protect them and shelter them from every little thing.

Instead you should provide them with a sense of confidence and belief in themselves while realising that this really grows from going through hard times and making it out the other side. It’s taking solace in knowing that it’s when things do go wrong, that children (and adults) learn the most about themselves and become stronger because of it.

Mum and Dad, thanks for letting me fail.

Parenthood is different for all of us… if you’d like to share your thoughts, why not join our Network

SelfishMother.com
12
& start posting?
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- 21 Jan 15

About 6 months before my 30th birthday I chucked in my full job to run my own company. Escaping the Dilbert cube and becoming my own boss has been a mixed bag of ups and downs that I wouldn’t trade for the world. It’s been the most difficult thing I have ever done, but also the most rewarding.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but something about running my own business has made me rather reflective on my life. I think a lot about my patterns of behaviour and what makes me tick. I think about what keeps me motivated and what tells me to stop working when know I could work 24 hours a day (but still feel like I haven’t done enough). I think constantly about what’s really important to my life.

I regularly reflect on my childhood and my formative years to try and figure out what experiences or beliefs have helped to shape who I am. The thing that keeps coming up is a belief that it’s ok to fail, and how this was instilled in me as a child. It’s definitely a work in progress and when things don’t work out, it can be disappointing, upsetting or incredibly painful. But I’m constantly working on becoming better with it and know how important it is.

I should mention that I don’t have any kids of my own. I have been with my wonderful girlfriend for nearly 4 years but we don’t have any little ones running around just yet. My comments are coming from what I have experienced as a child, rather than as a parent. But one of the things I’m sure I’m going to do when I do have children is to let them fail.

I work as a nutritionist and have a special interest in working with people with food and body image issues. The one thing that nearly all these people have in common is that they are perfectionists. In all areas of their lives they are trying to be absolutely mistake-free. When everything else is going to shit, at least they can exercise to the point of fatigue or restrict what they are eating in their pursuit of perfection.

One of the first things that I do when working with these people is get them to realise it is ok to make mistakes. I explain that their blips are how they learn about themselves; that striving for perfection is an impossibility and is actually creating their problem behaviour, and not supporting them like they believe it to be. I let them know that every last piece of food that they eat doesn’t define who they are as a person.

Running my own business, I also know how common failure is. For every idea that works, there are a dozen others that don’t. Being resilient and ok with this is the only way to survive, otherwise I would’ve thrown the towel in well before anything of any good was created.

The word failure has so many negative connotations associated with it. The thought of ‘letting your kids fail’ sounds horrible and cruel. But I don’t think there should be this negative stigma attached to the word.

Failing is really just learning how to do something differently. It is feedback that what you are doing isn’t quite right and needs to be changed or improved.

When everything is going right, it is hard to learn from the experience. It feels like you have the midas touch but you don’t really know why. But when things don’t work out, this is when you really have an opportunity to understand. You have to analyse the situation and try and figure it out.

When I think about my life, I’ve been incredibly lucky but I’ve experienced my fair share of failures and things not working out as I had hoped. Things are always relative and while I may not know what it is like to have things completely fall apart and I end up homeless or in jail, when things have failed it still hurts. But it is out of these tough times that I have learned the most. The most about myself, but also what I consider most important in life.

My ability to be ok with failure has a lot to do with my parents and how I was raised. And this is what I want to pass on to my kids (when I have them). I always felt totally supported by them in terms of letting me do and pursue whatever I wanted to. But at the same time they would allow me to get on with things on my own. Yes they were (and are) continually interested, but they didn’t want to interfere. They knew that I would only learn by being allowed to make my own mistakes; it’s one thing to be told something but another to experience it.

My mum is on my mailing list and I sent out an email recently. She sent me a response that I want to share below, as it was her email that prompted me to write this article.

I think the most important thing in life is resilience. Bad things will happen, things won’t always work out no matter how well planned and executed and you just need to be able to move on – without blame or recrimination. Of course this is all tied up with belief in yourself and others belief in you. But I see parents now constantly telling their children how wonderful they are, and how clever they are for the smallest of things. I don’t think it builds strength and it must be more difficult for those children to realise when they get to school that they are just one of several ‘very clever’ little people. We need to make them resilient so that when they do find things aren’t all going their way, that they can cope.” 

If I reflect on the lessons learned from my own parents, it’s about getting that balance right between being totally supportive on one hand, and allowing children to fail on the other. Knowing that if you want the best for them, you can’t protect them and shelter them from every little thing.

Instead you should provide them with a sense of confidence and belief in themselves while realising that this really grows from going through hard times and making it out the other side. It’s taking solace in knowing that it’s when things do go wrong, that children (and adults) learn the most about themselves and become stronger because of it.

Mum and Dad, thanks for letting me fail.

Parenthood is different for all of us… if you’d like to share your thoughts, why not join our Network & start posting?

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Chris Sandel is a nutritionist and runs the company 7 Health. He has no children at this stage (he’s hoping to change that) and lives in a small village in Kent, about 90 minutes outside of London. http://www.seven-health.com

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