The Thistle - An E-Newsletter of Scotch College, Perth, Western Australia

"Failure gives you another opportunity"  

For those  Survivor  fans, the Australian All Stars season is approaching the pointy end. The "outwit, outplay, outlast" mindset of the remaining individuals is coming to the fore. While it is just another reality TV show and obviously edited to create drama, intrigue, heroes and villains, it can be entertaining!

Castaways  talk about playing a "social game" or a "physical game". Some are good at puzzles and others are good at manipulating situations, reading people and trying to survive, in order to make it to the end. Although it is just a game meant as light entertainment, there are aspects that are intriguing, that draw us in and keep us watching. People are doing all they can to "win", but what starts as 24 ends up with just one winner, in other words 23 people don't win. Something one of the  Castaways  said poignantly just before he was eliminated, was: " Failure gives you another opportunity."

That contestant, Matt Rogers has played both Rugby League and Rugby Union for Australia and throughout his competitive career, he faced many challenges and overcame setbacks and "failures". This ability to overcome failures is a secret to our growth as an individual, or as a group or community. It is dependent on our mindset, our willingness to learn and re-invent, our passion, creativity, perseverance and enthusiasm. It is an opportunity to begin again, this time with more experience and knowledge.

There is often a focus on famous people who have overcome setbacks, or "failures" in their lives to have remarkable success; people like Michael Jordan, Steve Jobs, Alexander Fleming and Vincent van Gogh to name a few. They have experienced incredible achievements in their various fields of sport, business, science and the arts, but their success took time. They made errors and learnt from them – the errors provided the opportunity for them to learn and improve and were the catalyst for their success.  

Like these individuals, some people aspire to reach the top of the field about which they are passionate. However, learning from our mistakes and looking for that opportunity can be beneficial for all of us. It might be in how we prepare for a test, how we interact with our peers, it might be an error in technique in a sporting situation, a lack of concentration during a musical performance or a poorly worded argument in a debate. The opportunity exists for all of us to learn from our mistakes, to improve, to try something different, to be resilient and to surprise ourselves. We won't achieve success with every adjustment we make, but the willingness to try to see things from another perspective when they don't go to plan is important. This gives us a chance to reflect on our strengths, be mindful of our bias and be courageous enough to try again. We all get it wrong from time to time, that is part of life and the opportunity arises from how we choose to respond.