Spend a few minutes and think about a time when you really flopped, laid an egg, royally screwed up. To jog your memory, allow us to suggest a handful of examples taken from the annals of fatherhood (things we’ve heard from other dads).
Did you ever get caught sneaking a book out of the library in high school? Miss the shot at the buzzer that would have been the game winner? Drop the offering plate at church? Hit “reply all” when you didn’t intend for your sarcastic retort to be read by all? Keep one of those gems in mind and we’ll come back to it.
Teenagers feel like flops much of the time. It’s part of their youthful DNA. They try so hard to fit in. And they’re painfully self-conscious. If someone looks at them, they cringe with guilt. If they hear laughter and they’re not the ones laughing, someone must be mocking them. Nearly every move they make is accompanied by embarrassment because they are at an awkward age between adolescence and adulthood, and they flop in either role.
Driving the Point Home
Share with your teenager the story about the woman who holds the record for being the fastest person to fail a driver’s test. It took her just seconds to climb into the car, greet the examiner, turn the key and stomp on the accelerator instead of the clutch. (You may have to explain what a clutch is.) She plowed right through the wall of a building. And this was her ninth try! True story.
Point out that a flop can be a stepping-stone to great accomplishments. Babe Ruth was a home-run machine—but he also had 1,330 strikeouts during his career, plus another 30 strikeouts during World Series games. The strikeout king is Mr. October himself—Reggie Jackson—with nearly 2,600. Most of Thomas Edison’s experiments were bigger flops than triumphs but he used them as learning opportunities. During the French and Indian War, a young Army officer gave up and surrendered his troops to the enemy. That same man, George Washington, went on to do pretty well.
From Flop to Fulfillment
Share your own “flop” story with your teenager. If you’re like us, you have a repository of them! Point out to your teenager that when a person flops, he or she is seldom a total flop. There are usually aspects of what went right as well as what went wrong. Tell your teenager to allow some space to be a flop. Replay the situation and see what could be done differently next time. There are many flops on the way to success.
That way your teen will also have room to try again and grow. Mistakes are stepping-stones to growth. Teens (and Dads!) who are afraid of making mistakes, never take that first step. And that would be the biggest flop of all.