We have become a very risk-averse society, so this is a very timely piece for Times Higher Education:

In the academy all must have prizes, but nothing breeds success likefailure. Steven Schwartz argues that students gain more from blind alleys than from victory processions, as failure engenders the ‘true grit’ essential to achievement in the real world

“All political lives…end in failure,” said British politician Enoch Powell, a proposition amply corroborated by his own career. Scholars are vulnerable to a similar fate. To paraphrase the anthropologist Marshall Sahlins, academics can be certain of two things: someday we’ll all be dead and eventually we’ll all be proven wrong. (Sahlins’ tip for a successful career: make sure the first precedes the second.)

Even superstars fail. In a famous Nike advertisement, basketball legend Michael Jordan confesses to missing more than 9,000 shots and losing almost 300 basketball games in his career. “Twenty-six times,” he says. “I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot – and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.” Then, after a pause, he delivers the line that has attracted more than 4 million people to view the ad on YouTube: “And that is why I succeed.”

Read full story, and see the associated editorial.

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