Failure IS an Option

At the end of the second day of intense facilitator training, we were asked to write about what we had gotten out of the experience.  I wrote about the benefits of taking risks.  I reflected on my fellow FIT (Facilitator-in-Training) Team Members who boldly got up in front of others – some volunteered to be first; some tried a technique that no one else had done; some volunteered to do one thing which ended up being a different thing; some volunteered to mediate a heated argument; and some taught us new games.  Some appeared confident while others appeared nervous.  Everyone, throughout those training days, took risks.  They stood up, stepped in, stood out, and tried different things.

What I remember is the willingness to take those risks.  I don’t remember whether what was done was a success or not.  Taking a risk is scary and we often over think it.  We try to do a cost-benefit analysis and/or weigh the pros and cons.  Will it be worth it?  Should we try?  What will we get out of it?

The answer is to just try.  It is always worth it.  Even when we fail (or, more likely, think we failed), it was worth the risk.  We may not always get the results we expect but it was worth it.  For those who carefully weigh and analyze everything – weigh the end result.  Don’t agonize and fret over whether to try or not try.  Take the risk.

As we discussed evaluation on the third day, I realized that this whole enterprise is a risk.  We are creating a program for our profession and talking about how to measure it.  We are creating the program and the measurement tools by trial and error.  This is usually not done in libraries. Maybe what we create will work and maybe it won’t.  It doesn’t matter.  Together, as a team, we are creating a new process.  We will create an experience for the groups we facilitate in smaller teams.  We will see what results.

Failing can often bring the most interesting results.  Failure is not an end unto itself.  Sure, it is disappointing.  It can even be devastating and upsetting when we concentrate on feeling the failure.  Instead we should concentrate, perhaps dispassionately, on what we have learned from the experience and what the next steps could be.  Failure can help move us forward, take more risks, and try again.

Posted by Deirdre Routt, Facilitator-in-Training

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