How To Fail
The modern world demands one thing above all else: that we succeed. The stories we tell ourselves are around striving, overcoming huge odds and eventually winning, normally in some important sector of the economy. Society has a particularly harsh word reserved for those who don’t make it. They are – society says - ‘losers’.
However, the greatest likelihood is that we’re going to fail in some area of our lives or another, especially in the professional sphere (the focus of this class is particularly on failure in relation to work).
Our society knows so much about preparing for success; and yet it pays recklessly little attention to the far more likely and urgent matter: how we can handle failure with dignity, understanding, wisdom – and perhaps a touch of humour.
This class looks at the topic across philosophy, psychology, art and religion, as well as probing into our own emotions and backgrounds. We consider:
- The perfectionist drive in the modern world, where it comes from and how best to respond to it.
- Our parents: what they wanted and how we fear disappointing them.
- What lies at the heart of the dread of failing, especially as it relates to a loss of status and dignity.
- What it means to fail ‘well’ – accepting our limitations without becoming bitter.
- The real statistics of success; and how good we are at denying them.
- The Ancient Greek idea of noble failure and the Zen Buddhist notion of good imperfection.
- And the media’s influence on our understanding of failure and success.
This class seeks to equip us with the tools to handle failure on our own terms – which is a success of its own. We leave with a grown-up understanding of what we are up against and a consoling impression of the universality of reversal, imperfection and a degree of melancholy. No life is free of failure, and so we realise that failing well is an art all of its own – one of the most necessary we could ever learn.
Sarah Stein Lubrano began work at The School of Life helping create some of the earliest YouTube videos. She has now found a natural home in our content team, where she combines her love of intellectual ideas, emotional wisdom, and creative media. Sarah does research, writing, and design for everything from films to apps to interactive workshops. She not only creates internal content for The School but also designs bespoke content for clients.
Maurits Kalff is a psychologist, coach, trainer and magistrate, based in London. His coaching psychology practice works in both the public and private sector; working with people living with chronic illness to investment bankers; Maurits' focus is on quality of life, fulfilling careers and relationships.
How to Fail is one of the twelve classes that comprise our core curriculum. Our classes tackle the core themes of emotional life, from relationships and the workplace, to understanding the self and exploring our relationship with culture. You can explore the full curriculum here.
This class is in a sequence with How to Identify Your Career Potential and How to Be Confident which together cover The School of Life's ideas on work.
Our classes have been designed to give useful insights around the big themes in life. You’ll be challenged to think deeply about the issues that matter most, and provided with a space to share your thoughts, ideas and experiences with other curious, open-minded individuals.
To find out more about what to expect when you come to a class or workshop at The School of Life, take a look inside our London classroom.
These sessions are designed by experts and taught by members of our faculty. They include a mix of lecture, conversation and group activity.
Please note that we are unable to offer refunds or transfers less than 10 days before the event.
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