If we don’t learn to fail, we fail to learn.



The favorite game of my three years old daughter is catch me. This means that she will run away and I have to catch her. Full of energy and with laughter she will start running. Looking over her shoulder regularly to see if I’m following. Sometimes she deliberately slows down, so I can catch her, and she will scream with delight. It’s much more fun to ‘loose’ and get caught, than win all the time and never be caught.

When I teach managers playful learning, a lot of them are trying very hard to get it right and feel like they have failed when the outcome of the game is different than expected. They focus on winning (or not losing) so much, that they get tense and stressed while playing. But in playfulness there is no desired best answer. Every outcome is valuable, depending on the meaning you are willing to give to it. Once they get that and give themselves permission to play and ‘fail’, a lot of positive energy is generated. And that’s when the real learning starts…because

“If we don’t learn to fail, we fail to learn”

So where, when and why did we loose our natural playfulness?

With enthusiasm,

Annemarie Steen

One response to “If we don’t learn to fail, we fail to learn.

  1. Annemarie, you’re so right!! The same counts for public speaking… your 3 year old will tell whatever she has to say to anyone that will listen on the market square. But after a few times “shut up”, “act normal” or laughter in the class room during a speaking turn (spreekbeurt) the natural playfulness is gone and speaking fear is created instead! Shame on the grown ups!

    That’s why I designed the speaking game or spreekbeurtspel. At first for primary school to train kids to speak again without fear. We found out that also professionals can use this game to relax and rediscover their natural speaking skills. (there are 13 other groups that benefit like blind and dyslectic as well as (dementing) elderly people which is great but has nothing to do with your discussion) maybe you can use this in your trainings? Please contact me!

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