Make a Thousand Prototypes Son – Reframing Failure.

For the Functional Dad spectator, this week’s main feature has been focussed on my knitting prowess.

This was taken after a hearty painting session.

Although my knitting mastery has been particularly eventful, one of my biggest achievements this week was finally finishing my book – Black Box Thinking by Matthew Sayed (it’s been a long time coming).

What I find most interesting is that we still seem to be discussing the importance of embracing failure and learning from our mistakes?? I assumed this was a widely accepted and practiced concept since it was championed by Carol Dweck’s Growth Mind-Set theory. Particularly when you consider the number of motivational quotes that get showcased about the topic.

“We win, or we learn” Connor McGregor

I was discussing this concept with some friends (who are considered high performers within their field) and interestingly, one friend admitted he was hesitating over a new job opportunity because of the fear of failure and how it would be viewed if it didn’t work out.

So, being judged from others was essentially preventing him getting his dream job.

Sayed suggests people learn to view failure as shameful or something to avoid, a learned mind-set which ultimately limits people reaching their full potential – demonstrated by my friend.

Like most Dads this is concerning, because we want our kids growing up curious, adventurous, innovative and fearless. So how do we reframe failure, so they don’t feel judged?

Well, this is my interpretation and approach based on the Black Box Thinking model

   Make a Thousand Prototypes Son – This means – do it, gain feedback,  learn, readjust and move on.

Like Sayed states, the most successful people have gone through thousands of tests, set-backs and challenges but have managed to persevere and succeed, because they acknowledged the importance of gaining feedback, readjusting and going again. Alternatively, people wait for the perfect moment or doubt themselves, and meanwhile they coast through life missing valuable opportunities.

As Dads, we need to reframe failure to be considered a natural process in the pursuit for success, happiness or whatever the desired end state is and look to create an environment that our kids feel safe to fail in.

I’ve attached a copy from Tim Ferriss which may help us practice this.

And in addition, if you haven’t heard about Carol Dweck’s Champion Mind-set theory, I think it’s worth watching as it discusses methods to promote a growth mind-set.

A final quote:

How do I make better decisions? With experience,
How do I get experience? By making bad decisions.


Top of my podcast playlist for this week is Lewis Howes from the Greatness Academy. Lewis discusses the 9 Masks of Masculinity that we (men) wear throughout our lives. These masks ultimately prevent us from being our true selves. He believes that identifying these masks will allow us to become more approachable and loveable.

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