In a press conference, Most Valuable Player Nick Foles of the Philadephia Eagles had the following to say about failure, when asked what inspiration he wanted people to take from his journey :
Don’t be afraid to fail. I’m not Superman. We all have daily struggles in our life. Embrace the struggles and grow.
Instagram, Twitter- it’s all a highlight reel. Failure is part of life. It’s part of building character and growing.I wouldn’t be up here if I hadn’t fallen thousands of times, made mistakes. We all are human, we all have weaknesses. Without failure, I wouldn’t be up here.
Such a profound message. Actors get told that they need to have the courage to fail, and they might think “Yeah, I get that”, but actually doing it, actually failing, sucks. But it’s through that painful, disappointing process of failing that we are invited to confront our limitations and transcend them.
Being in a class in which everyone is patted on the head and told that they did good work will not afford you the opportunity to experience this kind of productive failure. This is not to say that acting teachers need to administer feedback in a harsh or cruel way. Not at all. But teachers do need to hold students to a high standard, a standard that is high enough that they will not always be able to meet it. It’s only in this kind of environment that people really grow.
As another wise man once said:
We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success. We often discover what will do, by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake never made a discovery,
If you’re in a class where you’re not being told when you’re doing strong, fulfilled work and when you’re not, and further, what you can do to make work that is lacking better, then it’s time to find a new class.