Life Lessons from the Playground

“Great leaders are not always those who play it safe but those that learn from mistakes and failures” C. Koos

Do you remember playing on the playground during recess and after school? If you were lucky enough to live close to the school within walking distance, the playground was open for after school unsupervised activity. In today’s world, unsupervised activity is a forbidden where the safety of children is of great concern. Not so in the former days of yore. Parents in those days could let their children wander the neighborhood and surrounding area without concern. Often one could hear a parent say, “get outside and get some fresh air”, which meant leave the house and do not come back until dinner.

While the activities such as tag, marbles, card games and various games which included a ball, the teaching of decision making and life skills began. First the “rules” were laid out to all those involved much to the chagrin of the younger children. The older children were in charge of laying out the rules. Of course when the rules were broken, especially by the older children, the rules seemed to change. We learned that flexibility of rules depends on who is “in charge”. Failure was always an “option” and we learned from our mistakes and failures. The children that played it safe and did not risk failure, abided by all the rules. They were the “goodie two shoes” and most of the children looked down on them not putting them on their teams. The “goodie two shoes” children advanced in school but learned little in how to handle mistakes and failure.

One girl in particular was horrified when she received a low grade and was teased on the playground. Today we may call this bullying. Coming to her aid were several children that frequently made mistakes and befriended her taking her into their circle of play. That group of children went on to create an elementary play about a group of rabbits playing together and surviving in the forest. The whole school loved the play and the group became popular amongst the students.

How appropriate those two lessons were: 1. Learn from our failures and do not give up and 2. Find those with the same focus and work together to achieve.

Do we not abide by the same rules in the business, education and corporate world? Many times through our mistakes and failures, we attain wisdom and great leadership skills.