Friday, 22 November 2013

Success and the importance of failure - Advanced lesson

Success and the importance of failure 

Do we need to fail in order to succeed?  Is 'failure' a fundamental element of success? Could teaching our children, students, and employees, the importance of failure, increase their ability to succeed?

5 famous people that failed, before they succeeded:

1. Bill Gates' first company, was a failure.

2. Steven Spielberg was rejected three times from film school.

3. Walt Disney was fired for 'lacking ideas and creativity'.

4. Winston Churchill, failed miserably at school?

5. Oprah Winfrey got fired from her job as a TV reporter because she was 'unfit for TV'.

In this TED talk, Richard St John talks about his personal experience of success and failure:

Key expressions

  • Comfort zone: A situation or position in which a person feels secure.
  • To go downhill: To decline and grow worse and worse. 
  • Hot shot: A person who is highly successful and self-assured.
  • Living under a black cloud: Depressed or having a run of bad luck.
  • Floating along: To move or act without purpose.

Click to view video

In this next TED talk, Angela Lee Duckworth shares her belief, that in order to succeed, we have to be willing to fail.  She has discovered that passion and perseverance for long-term goals or 'grit' as she calls it, is the key to success:

Key expressions

  • Grit: A psychological trait that allows some people to work harder, more frequently and to give up on tasks, less frequently.
  • Perseverance: Continued steady belief or efforts, withstanding discouragement or difficulty.
  • Mindset: A fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person's responses to and interpretations of situations.
  • Permanent: Not expected to change in status, condition, or place.

Click to view video

Angela Lee Duckworth also talks about 'Growth mindset', a theory developed by Carol Dweck, a Professor of psychology at Stanford University.  She explains that Growth mindset is the belief, that the ability to learn is not fixed; it can change with your effort.  Learning about the brain and how it changes and grows in response to challenges, makes us more likely to persevere when we fail.  The reason for this is because we understand that our failure is not a permanent condition.

Click below to test your mindset:

So to conclude, if at first, you don't succeed, don't give up, keep trying and accept the fact that failure is an important part of the journey to success.


  1. I like the information and videos. Can you please give me some information on how to use these in a high intermediate lesson, I have 10 students.

  2. I'm pleased you like the information in my blog. Email me and I'll be happy to send you my lesson plan for this topic. Emma :-)