The Question Matters

Permission to Fail, Permission to Learn

Posted in Change,Coaching,Leadership by treyfinley1008 on May 14, 2010
Tags: , , ,

“…the traditional role of trainer has morphed into a “stage manager,” making learning opportunities and tools available to talent who can drive their own learning, guided by their thirst for knowledge that will further their performance.”

via Is Learning In Your Brand? | Human Capital Institute.

I had dinner recently with a college friend.  He’s a great networker, he gets people, and as such, I know of very few individuals who are better at convincing someone that he/she needs what my friend has.  He hasn’t dabbled in car sales since college for nothing.

What surprised me about my friend was his publicly traded company’s approach to performance: weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals set through outsourced software, reviewed by supervisors.  Performance had improved, he claimed.  I heard in his comments a hint of “they better improve or our business will continue struggling.

I had difficulty lining up this incredibly personable guy with such an impersonal development plan.  And–I hope he’ll forgive me if he’s reading this–this sort of hierarchical evaluation is short-sighted. Clothed in the colors of accountability and productivity, it misses a crucial point in human development.  Performance is not necessarily an indicator of learning. Proactive learners given an environment where they can put their learning to work will always outperform individuals interested solely in performance. Who will ultimately “perform” at a higher level:

  • The child who learns through positive reinforcement and selective affirmation or the child kept in line by threats of punishment?
  • The teenager given dictated instructions or the teenager who experiences relationship-reinforced trial and error?
  • The employee/team/manager given permission to fail in their own ideas for achieving systems-sensitive goals or the ones who fear the consequences of failing to meet someone else’s expectations over which they have little or no control?

Every person, in their own ways, needs permission to fail safely. Does your family, your church, and your business give you space to fail?  In my experience, relational approaches to life at all stages will drive learning and performance more than rules and regulations.


2 Responses to 'Permission to Fail, Permission to Learn'

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  1. Marla Finley said,

    I’m so glad that you are our kids’ daddy to help them learn how to make good choices with the right kinds of motivation. And with more open-mindedness than dictations and strict letters of the law.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Trey Finley. Trey Finley said: Permission to Fail, Permission to Learn: […]

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