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7 Lessons In Failure I Learnt From My 2-Year Old

By Marnie L. Pehrson
Posted Sunday, October 3, 2004

A recent conversation on a discussion list set me thinking about the word failure. What is failure? As I was trying to determine the answer, I thought of my two-year-old son, Nate. I believe we can learn a lot from our children about failure and success. In observing Nate, I discovered seven important lessons.

1) Let Nothing Stand In Your Way

Nate lets nothing stand in his way. If he wants a cookie on the top of the refrigerator, he locates a chair, pushes it over to the counter, climbs up and goes for the cookie. If he wants a box of crackers in the pantry, he maneuvers his way up the shelves until he snatches them. Granted, these aren't risk-free moves; there is danger along the way, but he moves ahead impervious to peril.

2) Try Until

There is no limit to his trying. He doesn't say, ''Ok, I'm going to try to get that cookie 10 times and if I can't get it, I'll just quit.'' No, he tries until he gets it. He may change his approach and try different tactics, but he tries until he gets what he wants. When he was learning to walk, he didn't give up. He tried until he could do it.

3) Driven by Desire

Nate's ability to keep on trying is driven by his desire. He really wants that cookie or that toy and he lets that desire for what he really wants motivate him. He has no hidden agendas. He does not con himself into believing that he wants a carrot when he really wants a cookie. He's totally honest about his desires and goes for them.

4) No Ego or Pride to Bruise

When he slips and falls or doesn't quite reach his objectives, he doesn't beat himself up for it. He doesn't let it make a crushing blow to his ego or take it personally. Sure, he's upset that he's struggling, but it doesn't make him feel worthless.

5) Take Help from Others

Nate is not above asking for help. If he can't reach something, he'll come tug my sleeve and grab my hand and point to what he wants. It doesn't offend him or make him feel less of a person because he has to ask for help. He takes help when offered and asks for it when needed.

6) Learn by imitation

He learns how to succeed by watching his older brothers and sisters. He watches their mannerisms, listens to their words, and learns how to walk, talk and act by imitating those who are successfully accomplishing what he desires.

7) Be grateful

When Nate does get help, he's grateful for it. He'll give you a big hug, a kiss and a sweet smile to let you know he's grateful for what he received.

Perhaps we adults should remember what it is like to be children. So what is failure? I think it can be best summed up in a quote that a friend of mine carries in her e-mail signature, ''In one success a thousand failures lie forgotten. In one refusal to try a thousand successes prematurely die.'' The greatest failure is in the refusal to try.

About the Author
Marnie L. Pehrson is a writer, content provider and marketing coordinator who helps coaches and consultants get the online exposure they need to turn prospects into clients. She is the author of "10 Steps to Fulfilling Your Divine Destiny" and can be reached at or (


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