Failure hurts. It hurts as much when you’re 17, as when you’re 47, as when you’re 87. I’m not here to try to convince you that getting a bad grade or a disappointing test score isn’t painful. What I want to talk about is how you process and grow from the experience of failure. Because failure isn’t a bug in the system, it’s a design feature.
Failure is the direct result of living your life bravely, of trying new things, of experiencing what the world has to offer and of growing as a result of that experience. And having the ability to move through failure and into success is one of the most important skills a person can have in life, far more important than the perfection that so many high school students are told they have to attain.
And it’s not just me saying this. Take Korea, for example. In Korean society, a job at Samsung is one of the most sought-after positions a person can land. Think getting into Harvard, but multiply that by ten. As a Korean citizen, to get a job at Samsung, you have to basically be the best of the best at every stage of your life from elementary school to the end of college. And after all that, you still have to score in the top .6% on the Samsung Standardized Aptitude Test, which is taken by 250,000 people each time it’s offered. JUST TO GET AN INTERVIEW. Needless to say, anyone who gets that far is going to be accustomed to success, because even a slight misstep can knock you out of the running for Korea’s most coveted job. Every element of Samsung’s recruitment process is about selecting the most elite students produced by Korea’s world-class education system. However. Despite its singular pursuit of the country’s best and brightest, Samsung’s hiring department recently announced that they would no longer be accepting applicants with a college G.P.A. above a 4.0.
But why? Their reasoning is that if you’ve never gotten anything less than an A+, you won’t have the real-world skills to process failure. And they’ve seen this borne out in the workplace: too many brilliant new employees with the highest grades and best test scores get one negative performance review and implode. They become sullen. They stop coming to work. They have a mental breakdown. All because they’ve never been forced to learn how to cope with failure.
Learning how to fail well is just as much a skill as learning how to succeed. You’ve got to remember that. You’ve got to hold onto that even as you’re doing everything you can to make yourself the PERFECT college applicant. Not only will it help you stay healthy mentally and physically, but cultivating the skill of failure will make you a better student, employee, friend, spouse, parent and human.
That’s all good and well, but what now? How do you fail well? Tune in next week for a list of things you can do to move through and beyond your failures.
More About Mr. Test Prep’s Los Altos SAT Prep Services
Michael Romano has been helping students prep for the SAT for almost 20 years. He employs a hybrid approach that blends private SAT tutoring with group practice tests. This ideal mixture of focused instruction and real-world test-taking results is huge score increases for his students, and his Los Altos SAT Prep center functions as a calming environment in which students can learn the ins and outs of a stressful exam. For a candid description of his services, click here to browse Mr. Test Prep’s extensive collection of student and parent testimonials.