Failure is Always an Option

Tara Suri and Niha Jain are failures. They admit it, and so should we.

“No one wants to talk about failure,” one of them states in their TED talk, “Learning to Fail”. And they’re right. We want to talk about our successes, not our failures. We have to make mistakes to learn from them. Admitting our failures, does not mean that we only fail.

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  Courtesy of

Suri and Jain visited India and, appalled by the fact that 85% of the women in the community outside of New Delhi were forced into prostitution due to the fact that they didn’t have any other form of income. They came up with an idea to give these women an alternate form of income. They learned about market and design and raised about $20,000 to train the women to to sew and embroider in order to make and sell tank tops.

Unfortunately, the organization that Suri and Jain were working with misinformed them as to where their funds were going. They assumed that the money was being used to teach these women a trade and for doctor’s visits, but this isn’t true. They have no idea what happened to their money.

Instead of giving up, they connected with existing government programs for aid for the community. Despite doing everything they could, they failed to pull those women out of a life of prostitution. Instead of hiding their lack of success, they felt as if they “owed it to the women” and themselves to share their failure. They returned the grant money they’d received for the project and wrote an honest article about their failure. Their point. . . don’t be ashamed of failure.

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I like their story of failure because I can relate. We all fail, whether we admit to it or not. Sometimes we epically fail, sometimes we just fail a little. Either way, we need to accept our failures and not be ashamed of them. I like this TED Talk, because I can use it to teach my students and my kids. If someone as intelligent as these two young ladies fails, the failures of my girls or students aren’t so bad.

Their story is poignant because it’s something we can all relate to. We don’t always succeed at our goals, but we try. As long as the attempt is made, we can always be proud of what we’ve done.

I like the idea of using TED Talks to begin a conversation. My students would be able, using this particular TED Talk, to admit to failures they’ve had. I can admit to my failures, not that I’m going to share any with you! I usually do, my husband marks the calendar any time I admit to being wrong, which isn’t often!

My point is, I think that if we can all admit that we are, in some ways, failures, we will be happier. We can look back on our mistakes and learn from them. We can look at other people’s mistakes and learn from them. We can see what made us fail and change that in order to succeed the next time. We’re only human.

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courtesy of career

Go. Seek. Fail.


6 thoughts on “Failure is Always an Option

  1. Failure is so important! I’m pretty interested in science, and failure is basically integral in this subject. Most of the time, science experiments are failures, and it’s important to figure out why the project failed, in order to isolate variables that need to be changed and ways that the overall design can be improved. Right now, in my chem lab, we’re designing a methane reactor and I’m pretty sure my design is going to be a failure. But by recognizing where I went wrong and determining what conclusions are the result of design error, I can learn from my mistakes and design better experiments in the future. Great, informative post!


    1. I agree that failure is a great thing to learn from. Your science example is a great way to teach that failure can, in fact, be a good thing. I hope your methane reactor works, but if it doesn’t, I’m sure you’ll figure out why! Good luck!


  2. This is hard for most people but it’s true– we don’t learn unless we fail & try again. It creates strong personalities through perseverance. I like that you caught this TED Talk! The experience these girls went through is amazing! It is an inspiring talk to open up discussion in any classroom. Great job!


    1. I think it’s a great why to open discussion as well. I’m going to be teaching English, and failure is a part of writing. Some things just don’t work in writing when paired with others. Failure is sometimes the best part of writing, because what doesn’t work with one story/paper may work with another or spark something new.


  3. It’s likely I’ll use TED talks in class. I think TED talks will be valuable to start conversations for sure – a there’s a very broad selection of topics to choose from!

    It’s hard for people to admit failure. When there’s a failure in Theatre, it’s VERY public, so that’s probably why in Theatre we rehearse, and rehearse, and rehearse! (and keep our fingers crossed!) The audience may never know how much effort it took, and how many failures there were along the way, when the magic happens, and the show goes well.


    1. In theater, as in life, failures are great learning experiences. When facing the same situation again, we are able to change our reactions and have a different outcome. Failure, and the accepting of it, is a great thing to teach in our classrooms.


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