Learning from Failure

This last week we held our Sports Awards evening.

Girls in 10 different sports were awarded Colours for their achievement and commitment to sport. It was a fabulous evening but these sorts of events do make you reflect.

There are winners and losers, and for those who do not get recognised, it can be a painful event.

As a Head, the last thing you want is for your pupils to feel hurt or rejected, and it is for these reasons you think carefully on the merits of these types of evenings.

As educators we have to teach resilience and the girls have to recognise that they will face rejection. What we do not want is for the girls to fall apart later in life because they have not experienced how to handle rejection. They need to recognise that what is important is not so much the failure but how you deal with it.

Maya Angelou, one of the most influential women in America, was fired from her first job.

Her mother comforted her by saying: “Well next time you’re fired it will be easier.”

Maya Angelou developed the skills of resilience and bounced back every time from the countless rejections she faced. Indeed, she wrote a poem that extols a spirit of feisty adventure and defiance which sets a great example of how to respond to a setback:


Sure I will sail them.

Show me the boat,

If it’ll float

I’ll sail it


I’m not ashamed to tell it

I never learned to spell it

Not failure

At the Sports Awards, our guest speaker, Kate Richardson-Walsh, GB Hockey captain who represented the country in the 2012 Olympics, spoke eloquently about resilience and being strong when you do not initially succeed.

Kate showed a picture of the 32 women who had trained alongside her for two years; hoping to be selected for the 2012 Olympics. The picture was taken at their last training session when the team had been told who would not make the final 16. The unsuccessful women held their heads high and trained hard in the last session to ensure the final 16, were fit for their first match. She reiterated that their strength in being rejected helped inspire the team and the success of the side was as much due to them as it was to the selected 16.

Sometimes we try to protect the young from rejection but I would argue it makes you stronger. Life is not fair, it is full is full of setbacks. We teach the girls to learn from their setbacks. The evening was a celebration of our sporting success and whilst not every girl won an award, every girl in the room had contributed to the school’s sporting success.

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