Yesterday I was having a conversation with a business leader in Howard County about the preparation of youth for the world that awaits them. We were discussing the evolution of job descriptions and the attributes that those hiring are looking for.

To persevereThemes such as problem-solving and perseverance surfaced again and again and he made a point that stuck with me for the rest of the day. He said (I’m paraphrasing based on memory) that more and more, students are not being permitted to fail. We (parents, educators, community members) have placed so many safety nets below them that failure is becoming non-existent. In his view, this has created a deficit in skills around problem-solving and perseverance.

His solution? We must allow children to “fall forward.” In other words, find opportunities that allow for failure with the ultimate benefit of growth. This term stuck with me. I shared it with my wife and we discussed how we could find more opportunities to allow our children to fall forward in order to help them learn from their challenges. We agree that there are many moments where – as parents – we are going to catch them. But we were able to identify other moments when we could have let them fall and (hopefully) persevere.

“Falling forward” is a concept that I’m going to continue to embrace as a parent and a professional. As somebody with the top Gallup strength of “Futuristic” I often look beyond the moment and envision the ideal outcome and potential roadblocks. In some cases, this causes me to miss what is required in the current moment. Falling forward requires recognizing – in the current moment – that allowing this natural series of events to occur will ultimately lead to growth.

Perseverance and problem-solving skills are critical attributes for not only students – but anybody that wants to find success in their pursuits. We could all benefit from taking a risk now and again and falling forward.

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