The Other "F" Word “Failure is a great teacher and, if you are open to it, every mistake has a lesson to offer.” -- Oprah Winfrey

Think of a time when you failed.

How did it feel?

How do you know you failed?

What did you learn?

Take a few minutes to write down your individual thoughts.

How does brainstorming work?

The more the merrier.

Focus on a common goal.

Reflect on connections, implications, consequences, emotions, definitions, and how everything might fit together.

Start a visual representation of the connections.

Like this...
or like this...

Get ready to brainstorm and create a mind map in your group!

As a group, you will mind map the word "failure". Answer the questions below to help guide the development your mind map. Note, you don't have to include answers to every question, but use these to help you fill in the different ideas about failure. Make sure you have watched the videos in this module BEFORE you begin the group work. Once your group completes the mind map, one member of the group should post an image of the mind map to the Padlet for Discussion 5 - Failure.


  • What is failure?
  • How would you describe failure to someone who doesn't know what it means?

Pros and Cons

  • What is positive about failure?
  • What is negative about failure?

The Journalist Way

  • Who fails?
  • What happens when you fail?
  • When do you fail?
  • Where do you fail?
  • Why do you fail?
  • How do you fail?

The Ways of Knowing

Sense Perception

  • How would failure feel if you could touch it?
  • What does failure sound like?
  • What does failure look like?
  • What does failure smell like?
  • What does failure taste like?

Language (books, oral stories)

  • What do you hear about failure from your friends and family?
  • What have you read about failure?
  • What famous stories are there about failure?


  • How does failure make you feel?
  • What emotions are connected to failure?

Tradition (cultural)

  • What were you taught at home about failure?
  • What were you taught at school about failure?
  • When you were young, what were the consequences if you failed?
  • What would your grandmother/grandfather say about failure?
  • What stories did you hear about failure when you were growing up?


  • What does your religion teach you about failure?


  • How would you draw failure?
  • What image represents failure to you?
  • How would a small child see failure?

Authority (experts, people in power)

  • What does academic research tell us about failure?
  • What do politicians say about failure?
  • How do large companies deal with failure?

Empiricism (replication, quantification)

  • What happens if you keep failing at the same thing?
  • How do we measure failure?

More about that other "F" word:

Everyone fails at some point. It doesn't mean you're dumb, or that you can't do it. It just means you haven't learned something YET.

Acknowledge your failures, address them, embrace them, and MOVE ON.

You must be resilient and have a growth mindset to be successful.

Be competitive with yourself, not with others.

Be accountable for your successes and your failures.

Keep trying.

For more on growth mindset, follow Carol Dweck's work.

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again. This time more intelligently.” - Henry Ford

Created By
Shelley Howell


Created with images by geralt - "loser failure finger" • John T - "Monday maize" • MetsikGarden - "color desktop paper" • rawpixel - "untitled image" • StartupStockPhotos - "ideation startup entrepreneur" • rawpixel - "untitled image" • geralt - "loser failure board" • Ian Kim - "Neon sign" • ccPixs.com - "Crossroads: Success or Failure"