Lead a vivid life that does good

Tag: New Zealand School System

Re-framing Failure

What have you learnt from the gift of failure this week

“I hate the word failure and wish it never existed,” I stated as strongly as I could as we reflected on some past experiences.

I shared that the problem with failure is its opposite seems to be pass.

The problem with pass is it has a strong mental connection to school or uni, where you pass or fail.

If you didn’t pass.

You failed.

You were a failure.

Nowadays, particularly in start-ups, ‘failing often’ or ‘failing fast’ is seen as a badge of honour. Because you can learn so much from failure.

Which is why I love how schools are trying their hardest to re-frame the word failure.

My friend who I was sharing all this with said that each Friday, his daughter is asked at her primary school, “What have you learnt from the gift of failure this week?”

Isn’t that a great question! Take another look.

What have you learnt from the gift of failure this week?

I realised in that conversation that I need to intentionally re-frame the word ‘failure’. To stop hating on it.

It should no longer be linked to pass or fail. Rather it should be linked to all the successes I have had as a result of learning from my failure.

Failure can be a gift.

If you learn from it.


What have you learnt from the gift of failure this week?



Have you learnt anything?

Because if you haven’t, maybe your stuck in your comfort zone again.

How much do I get paid?

Pay Kids for inventionsAround our house we have duties that everyone has to do each week on rotation as a part of being in the family. Then there are the tasks like mowing the lawns which I can do for free, or the kids can do for money.

Of course the first question is “how much do I get paid?”

We are taught from an early age to value our time when we work. We are rewarded for the hours we put in, not the outcomes.

Which is weird, because as adults we know true success is not determined by how much we earn.

Success is defined by what we do.

What we learn.

What we create.



Who we help.



And how we shape the lives of people around us.

I’m not sure I want my kids to grow up with a ‘wage’ mentality. I would rather they have a ‘change’ mentality.

Maybe those of us with kids should start paying them for the hours they aren’t on devices or watching TV.

We could pay them to read, or exercise, or learn new stuff they don’t teach at school.

We could start offering to pay our kids when they are writing, or creating, or making art.

Better yet, we could pay our kids for each invention they make, regardless of how successful. Or fund any social project, no matter how short-lived.

I’m sure there will be a downside to all of this, but it must be better than just paying them to mow the lawns

The story that shapes your life.

The Story you tell yourselfIn my final years of high school I was labelled. I was average (to below average). I lacked discipline. I needed to work harder. It would have been easy for me to accept that story and have it define my life.

What your schools, friends, colleagues and even family say about you is far less important than it seems.

Far more important is the story you tell yourself.

You get to choose the story that shapes your life.

No one else.

Fortunately, the person I am today is dramatically different to the person I was 20 years ago.

Over the years I’ve learnt that its not the things I am told that hold me back. It is almost entirely the things I tell myself.

And to be honest, the stories we tell ourselves are a lot harder to change than we think.

BUT (I use this word intentionally), they can be changed.

That should give you great hope for the future.

One reason why education in New Zealand is fantastic!

Imagine a 10-year-old student you have known. Now pause, and think about their schooling and what they have really learnt at the age of 10.

Consider how little they really know in mathematics and english.

Their drawing is good, but they are no designer.

They have creativity but their cognitive skills are lacking.

Now, imagine the 10-year-old finishing school for good. Then you discover they have no access to books or libraries or the internet and you realise the child’s lifetime intellectual learning is over.

Gone is the opportunity to learn more about science or maths or design or art. Gone is the opportunity to seek a University degree.

I have just described the average student in Cambodia. Most rural children have access to a basic primary education, at which point the distance and cost increase to attend high school is so great, that the children finish school and start working on the family rice fields.

If most people you knew finished school at 10, how much opportunity to develop, invent and improve would your community have?

How much opportunity would exist to improve the efficiency and productivity of your family land?

At a very basic level, how much opportunity would you have to improve water quality, sanitation and health, if your education finished at 10?

The unfortunate answer is at best, ‘very little!

As I toured rural Cambodia recently and heard that most children finish school at the age of 10, all I could think about was my 10-year-old daughter finishing school at the end of this year. She is smart and has learnt heaps, but hasn’t yet learnt anywhere near enough for a lifetime. And if her access to books and teachers and even the internet disappeared, her future learning would be unthinkably limited.

As I thought of the implication of finishing school at 10, I realised how incredibly blessed we are to have the education and resources on offer in New Zealand.

It offers our children a lifetime of learning.

It means our children’s children will learn even more, and develop more cure’s and create more truly great things.

Education offers hope for our future!

Oh, and the one reason I think education in NZ is fantastic? Because my children continue in school until at least 16 and even then their opportunities aren’t limited. Too often we forget that.

Lesson 3 from Cambodia visit 2012: Education is pivotal for the future of communities