Successful Failures: How TomTod will fail your students

[Today’s guest blogger is TomTod Board Member, Dave K. Smith. (Read his bio on our TomTod Team page). Dave is the Executive Pastor at Willow Creek Community Church, Crystal Lake Campus.]

When a child falls off a bike, they brush if off and jump back on.  However, when an adult falls off a bike, their first reaction is to look around and see who saw them.  Why?  Because our “adult world” teaches us to fear failure, and when it happens, we are embarrassed by it.

Many organizations fear the loss of their innovative edge, while simultaneously allowing their fear of failure to hinder creative thought and action.  The need for rigid work processes and precise business plans forfeit our ability to take risks, allow new models to fail, and capture learnings for strategic breakthrough and groundbreaking impact.

For our communities and organizations to sustain consistent discovery, the need to release their expectations towards instant perfection and immediate results is essential.  As Pixar’s motto is “fail early, fail fast,” they have achieved steady pioneering work by loosening the grip of fear and getting the most out of each anticipated failure.  In his book, Creativity Inc., Pixar and Disney Animations CEO Ed Catmull writes, “If you aren’t experiencing failure than you are making a far worse mistake:  You are being driven by the desire to avoid it.”

This is why I love partnering with TomTod.  The heart behind TomTod is to not only capture the raw imaginations of middle school students, but to collaboratively thrust them into the unknown, harnessing the power of risk and smart failures, to then refine their altruistic dreams into realities of genuine impact.

To no surprise many of our young people make up today’s 6 million extreme gamers who actually spend half of their time failing in this $70 billion dollar industry.  In Jane McGonigal’s book, Reality is Broken, she unveils the brokenness of our world and how today’s gaming industry is filling our deepest human needs.  McGonigal shows us that, “when gamers spend half of their time failing, they actually enjoy it…Because when playing today’s well-designed games, failure doesn’t disappoint them.  It makes them happy in a very particular way:  excited, interested, and most of all optimistic.”

In a similar fashion, TomTod unleashes the inventive thoughts of students, allowing them to test and prototype their ideas to the point of appropriate failures, surfacing curiosity and breakthrough thinking.  Their ideas are then launched to not only make our world a better place, but to transform the student and position them well for future impact.

As TomTod “empowers tomorrow’s leaders today,” let us never forget that their influence with each student will carry on well into tomorrow.

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