Friday, September 30, 2016

Managing Failure: Learn and grow

In this current world, expectations are flying higher than ever. Children are to excel in studies, music, sports and the list goes on. Grown ups are to work hard, climb up career ladders, travel the world, own nice houses and cars, and take care of their family. Dream wedding, luxury honeymoon, beautifully curated parties and so much more. Top-notch and continuously improving products and services to meet the growing needs. And, I'm probably guilty to have high expectations of some listed above as well.

Expectations and goals

No, I'm not saying that having expectations and goals are bad. 

Expectations and goals on oneself or from others actually bring about motivation, push limits, generate learning, result in breakthrough and achieving of goals. On the other hand, low or no expectation and goals more often than not cause one not to put in enough effort and not maximising potential.

In short, it is necessary to have expectations and goals. However, they need to be well managed.

Success and Failure

It's great if one meet or exceed expectations and goals, confidence increases, motivation climbs and more achievement made. But, we all know success don't happens all the time.

When one falls short of their own expectations and goals, disappointment sinks in, stress peaks, failure screams. Some get out of it quickly while others can't help himself or herself out and get lost. Some might manage to seek external intervention in time, others, unfortunately, break down, snap or thought of giving up trying or even their precious life.

Managing expectations and goals

Some recent happening triggered me to write this post based on my personal (layman) belief and to reflect about how I should manage my expectations and goals for Emma. Like many parents, I would like Emma to live up to her potential without driving her up the wall. 

So, my answer is probably closer to having a reasonable mid to high expectation and goals with appropriate assessment of her ability and resources rather than comparing with the peers or sticking too closely to social standards. It is also my role as a parent to instill the right values and strong mindset, and provide a positive learning opportunity for her to fulfill her potential. I like her to do her best but won't want to push her too hard. At the same time, I would allow her to fail safely and train her to manage her failure and bigger failure of life.

Then again, how exactly do we determine what's the right expectations? I find it hard to answer.

Managing Failure: Learn and grow

What's equally, if not more important, to me than setting the right expectation and achievement is an important life lesson we are have to master. And that's to learn and grow from both success and failures.

When things don't go your way, that's not the end. While some may consider not being able to meet their expectations and achieve their goals as negative experiences, I love to see them as opportunities from God for learning and growth.

In fact, all these doubt, disappointment, fear and picking up are necessary for growth. Along the way, we, both adults and child, learn to recognise, embrace and overcome these least favourable emotions and experiences. That's when growth takes place.

I like to teach Emma that failures and imperfections are part of our life. We need not lead a flawless and beautiful life for God has his perfect plan for us, we just need to learn and grow as we live. Instead of focusing too much on the end results and achievement, we should focus on hope, change and learning. 

Like how young toddler pick up after each fall before they learn how to walk independently, I want her to have strong faith and be as resilient and strong. I want her to know that God is in control and we will always be there for her. 

When things become too much to bear...

Ending off, do seek help when things are too much to bear. If you think you are setting too high an expectation for your child(ren), step back, reflect and mediate the situation. If you are feeling depressed or discouraged, open up and talk to someone, seek help if necessary. If you know of anyone around who are behaving in a depressed and discouraged self, take some time to pray or talk to him/her and raise it up to someone who could help him/her. To name a few, there are organisations like Touch Community Services or private counselling companies or Institute of Mental Health who provide support and assistance to those in need.

Do not run away from problems, pick up and run ahead.

He gives power to the faint and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40 : 29-31

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