"Fail early, fail often, fail forward": Why failing could be the best thing that's happened to your teen

Matric is arguably the hardest year in a teen's life. 

It's the big one, the deciding factor that determines an entire lifetime, and not making the cut can have a devastating impact on a young person's self-esteem and confidence. 

And it may be just as hard for you as a parent to accept that your child has fallen short. 

Also see: “I want to kill myself” 

And yet, regardless of who you are or where you're from, we've all come face-to-face with disappointment at some point in our lives. 

If getting your kid motivated falls out of your skill set, take a minute to share these inspirational stories with them. 

Who better than the massively famous to put this failing thing into perspective? 

Each one has mastered the art of failing and here they share a little secret: failing was the best thing that happened to them. 

Also see: Failing matric is not the end 

Will Smith: "Failure is a massive part of being able to be successful" 

"It's always a little frustrating to me when people have a negative relationship with failure... you have to get comfortable with failure. Successful people fail a whole lot more than they succeed but they extract the lessons from the failure. Failure helps you to recognise the areas where you need to evolve." 

Denzel Washington: "You will lose, you will embarrass yourself, you will suck at something, there's no doubt about it" 


"Every failed experiment is one step closer to success... You will fail at some point in your life. Embrace it because it's inevitable, and I should know. In the acting business you fail all the time... but here's the thing: I didn't quit, I didn't fall back." 

J. K. Rowling: "It is impossible to live without failing at something" 

"The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass. And by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew... Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena where I believed I truly belonged. I was set free... rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life... failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will and more discipline than I had suspected... You will never truly know yourself or the strength of your relationships until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift." 

Elizabeth Gilbert: "... for almost 6 years I had nothing but rejection letters waiting for me" 

"For almost six years, every single day, I had nothing but rejection letters waiting for me in my mailbox. And it was devastating every single time, and every single time, I had to ask myself if I should just quit while I was behind and give up and spare myself this pain. But then I would find my resolve, and always in the same way, by saying, 'I'm not going to quit, I'm going home.'

"And if you're wondering what your home is, here's a hint: Your home is whatever in this world you love more than you love yourself. So that might be creativity, it might be family, it might be invention, adventure, faith, service... your home is that thing to which you can dedicate your energies with such singular devotion that the ultimate results become inconsequential." 

Did your child fail matric or any other grade? How did they take it and how did you motivate them? Tell us in the comment section below or email to chatback@parent.com and we might publish your story. Do let us know if you'd like to stay anonymous.  

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