How to change your Relationship with Failure and Learning

Failure and Learning

In our last instalment, we introduced you to Dr Carol Dweck’s concept of Growth Mindset and why you would benefit from adopting it. This week, we begin the journey of developing a growth mindset to help you face the 4th industrial revolution head-on; and transform into an efficient and confident 21st century administrative professional. An important part of getting there is to understand the relationship between failure and learning.

Read: What is a Growth Mindset and why does it matter?


Failure is Positive

How likely are you to try or do something if you think you will fail? Probably not often… if not ever. In Dr Dweck’s research, she found that a key component in students developing a growth mindset was how they viewed failure. Failure tends to have a negative connotation as most people associate it as being incapable or useless. When people fail they think that their intelligence is being judged and that their self-worth has been compromised. Yet, it should be seen as an opportunity to improve and grow.

In one presentation, Dr Dweck talks about a school where students had to pass a fixed amount of courses in order to graduate. If they didn’t pass the required amount of courses, they weren’t graded a “Fail”. Instead, the school termed it “Not Yet”. That simple change made such a powerful impact on the students’ motivation as they viewed it as an opportunity to improve. Sure enough, all these students persevered until they graduated.

Now, imagine if we all saw our lives and challenges like that? Instead of thinking you’ve failed, rather have the attitude that you are just “not yet” ready. A simple change of perspective can alter your motivation and the way you view challenges. How you view failure is an important step to develop a growth mindset. It keeps you motivated to do and want to do better, even when things don’t go the way you were hoping.


Rediscover your Love of Learning

If you regard failure as an opportunity to improve, you’re guaranteed to view learning as a way to grow and succeed. Learning is something that you’ll want to do instead of feeling like you have to do. You’ll understand and appreciate how important putting in that extra effort has been in contributing to your overall success. It’s impossible to know everything or be an expert on a particular topic without learning and gaining experience first. Experiencing failure is often integral to succeed in the ‘learning journey’. As long as you learn from failure, you’re growing and developing your skillset.

Download: PACSA 2019 Brochure

Developing a learning mindset bodes very well for your career. You’ll be eager to take on new challenges and responsibilities because you’ll see them as opportunities for growth and success. This is the kind of mindset that a successful 21st century administrative professional needs to have in order to be truly futureproof and ready for the 4th industrial revolution.


This article is the second of a 4-part series where I will discuss how you can develop a growth mindset. These useful tips and step will not only advance your professional development but more importantly ensure that you’re ready to take on the challenges of the 4th industrial revolution and turn them into career opportunities!


If you want to learn more about how to develop a Growth Mindset then register for our 17th annual Professional Administrators and Secretaries Conference South Africa (PACSA) taking place at Sun City on 31 July – 2 August 2019. This topic will be included along with many other amazing ones at South Africa’s premier secretaries and administrators event.


PACSA 2019

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