Character education lessons, activities, and resources

According to Brene Brown, “Our vulnerability is the most accurate measure of our courage.” Courage is not about being fearless. Courage is about doing the things you fear. Fear of failure is natural and happens to all of us. But, far too many people let their fear of failure keep them from even trying something in the first place.

The reality is the lessons learned from failure are often the foundation of future success, as described in the video below. This video features J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, and the first billionaire author in history. Watch this video with your teen and then discuss the following questions below.

Note: This video is an excerpt of the commencement address Rowling delivered at Harvard University in 2008. The full address can be found on YouTube.

Discussion Questions

What are the benefits of failure that Rowling mentions in the video?

What are other benefits of failure?

How can overcoming our fear of failure set us free?

In her speech Rowling says, “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you failed by default.” What does she mean by that quote?

Think of something you want to achieve, but are not currently attempting, or are giving less than full effort because you fear failure.

  • List all the positive things that will come from aiming to achieve this goal. How will your life be better by trying?
  • Then, list all the negative outcomes if you fail to meet the goal. What is the worst that can happen?
  • Finally, list what happens if you don’t try at all? What are the consequences of not trying?