Encouraging Risk and Failure

By Kelly Moore, PhD

Director of Student Support Services

I have two kids.  Both of them are freshman—one in college and one in high school.  I have spent my fair share of time talking with each of them about the new demands of their current scholastic endeavors. Mostly they come to me when they are surprised by some expectation or they experienced what they considered to be a failure. As I look back on my own scholastic experiences, I remember tests that I THOUGHT I studied for, papers I THOUGHT were well-edited, and discussions I THOUGHT I prepared for—all surprising me with the level of detail or preparedness that was actually called for. Teachers and professors who set the bar higher for me than I set for myself is what helped me learn, grow, and become a much better student in school and in life. What would have happened had I started out each year acing every class, nailing every assignment and planning out my time perfectly? I certainly wouldn’t have grown as much as I did and I would never know that with effort I am capable of more. Like me, my kids prefer to get it right the first time but as I have been coaching them, that isn’t always in their best interest. I ran across an article on Huffington Post by Meg Conley who suggest families ask three simple questions at dinner each night that (1) I  wish I would have thought of myself, and (2) I am going to try.  They are:

  1. How were you brave today?
  2. How were you kind today?
  3. How did you fail today?


I invite you to join me in the experiment of asking these questions—don’t despair if you get eye rolls, just keep asking.  Drop me a note (kmoore@eastsideprep.org) to let me know what you discover.