Success vs. Failure; and the lessons we actually teach

I read a quote the other day that said, “Success doesn’t make you invincible. Success makes you lazy and complacent”.


But it struck a chord with me. I had been thinking about this theme of success a lot lately. And really asking myself what success means to me. And most important, how we teach our children the meaning of success.

When we become parents, we innately become responsible for the well-being of another human. There is no hand book. No one telling us if we are doing it right. And no check list to refer to with each birthday celebration.

The beautiful part is that as parents, we get to decide what we teach our children. What becomes the cornerstone of our family values.

For us, our family mantra is effort and attitude. It’s all we can control. But what this translates for me is always working hard, being self aware of your growth journey, and staying humble and positive no matter what.

Because the truth is, our kids will hold many positions in life. They will reach peaks in performance, being the best of the best. They will also fail, over and over again. And while some things come easy for them, there will be times they will work their ass off and never reach the top.

The beautiful part is that all of these positions are equally important in shaping who we become. And who our children become.

Let’s take sports for example. I was always an athlete growing up. I played many sports and tried everything. In high school, I played softball and figure skated. Before that, I tried diving, track, soccer, and basketball. I even tried rowing in college. I loved them all and they all taught me something different. I learned about confidence. Leadership. The importance of failing and getting back up. I learned about friendship and teamwork. The importance of working hard.

You see for me, I was never the best at anything. Whether it was sports, my love of art, or school and academics, I was always right in the middle. I wasn’t the best, but I did well because, well, I’m very Type A and failure wasn’t an option for me (I’m working on this one).

What was more important for me was that I always tried my best.

In our house growing up, being the best didn’t matter. It was about working hard and giving it my best every time I stepped onto that softball field. Every test I took. Every project I owned. The results almost never really mattered.

And in our house today, this holds true for our family. Being the best is never the goal. But man, doesn’t it feel like that’s all that matters these days? It’s easy to get wrapped up in.

The way I look at it is that we may not be able to control our external factors, BUT we can make sure it doesn’t become the inner dialogue for our children. And to take it a step further…that this doesn’t become our inner dialogue as parents.

When I look back at that the quote, “Success doesn’t make you invincible. Success makes you lazy and complacent”, I wouldn’t pass this little life lesson on to my kids at face value, but it means something to me as an adult.

And its grounded me on a few things as I think about the example we want to set for our kids:

  • Attitude and effort. It’s all we can control.
  • Always, always work hard.
  • Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
  • Failure is part of the process. Embrace it. Own it. Learn from it. And then move on.
  • Just because you are the best today does not mean you always will be. You can always grow. Push yourself.
  • If something doesn’t come naturally, it’s not your life sentence. Work hard. It will pay dividends down the road. Maybe not how you imagine, but you will learn how hard you can fight for something. That’s worth something.
  • Don’t ever let success go to your head. Seed growth in others. Help them get to where you are.
  • And as parents, we need to celebrate our kids for everything they are. Let’s make a pact and call bullshit on only showcasing the best parts. Let’s show the hard work. The lessons learned. The confidence gained. The growth from the progress!
  • Who’s with me?

    Here are some of ours:


    This was one of Kellen’s first games on a new team. They haven’t won a game yet and here, I think they lost 17-3. I could probably think of a lot of excuses on why, but it doesn’t matter. Because they sure worked hard. They’re getting better. And having fun. 



    This is Declan; we think he is going to be an individual sport kind of a kid. He plays team sports, but seems to be more comfortable when he becomes the competition. And he’s really taken to golf. I love watching his focus. His determination. I have no idea if he even hit the ball. This is what I remember.



    Five years ago, I couldn’t keep a plant alive. It was absurd. But, I have gotten better, and I work so hard to keep my flowers thriving each summer. This reflects my plants come August 1. And its glorious because it reminds me that it was living for THREE months before this! 



    I love this picture of Declan. It was after he caught up with me during a 5k in support of the Emily Program. He wasn’t even signed up, but came to watch me run. And he wanted to be part of the experience. Those rosy cheeks. He loves running, which I love because its a passion of mine. I think he likes the mental break, the adrenaline rush. And no one telling him to stop.



    He cared way more about dancing in the field and the snacks than winning his games, but he loved going and tried his best. I mean come on, look at that face.



    I convinced my husband to train for a ten-mile race, and I was SO proud that we crossed the finish line together! Our kids asked if we won. Ha! No, WE FINISHED! And I have no idea what our time was. You can go ahead and look it up. You care more then we did.  




    OK, not going to lie. The compulsive editor in me had to fight not to get in there and pretty these up. And there were definitely other science fair presentations that were prettier, but LOOK AT THEIR SMILES!!  They did this all on their own, and we were so proud.



    I HATE wrapping presents. I usually just get gift bags and it solves the whole debacle. My present was on the top and believe it or not, I actually tried to do a good job. I’m owning it. Merry Christmas.  

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