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When you are suspended on a rope 60m above the ground in a tight cavernous canyon with a waterfall rushing over your feet, there is very little room for failure.
You must trust in the knowledge and experience of those who are supporting your abseil, the people on the ropes who literally hold your life in their hands. And you must trust in your own knowledge and experience. Any mistake could be fatal.
To most of you, this photo of me abseiling in the Glass House Mountains on the New South Wales/Queensland border might look like success. I’ve made it over the edge. I’m stepping out of my comfort zone. I’m scaling the cliff like a female version of spider man, albeit with hard hat and a cracker wedgie!
While the thought of doing this might excite or terrify you, it all seems pretty triumphant. But when I look at this picture. I think differently. I think of the all the failures, all the practice, all the stuff ups, all the risk assessment and all the learning, which enabled me to get to this stage.
You see, I believe failure is knowledge. And I believe knowledge is success.
We are taught from a very young age, that if we chase our dreams and work hard, we can do anything. We hear the stories of celebrities, athletes, teachers, parents who have worked hard for their dreams and they make it all look so easy.
What we don’t hear about is the stumbles they make on the way. The challenges they faced. The knockbacks they had on the way to pursuing success. We also don’t hear about the knowledge they gain from those failures. The knowledge which undoubtedly, has led to their ultimate success.
We have a motto we live by when we are abseiling, it’s called ‘the seven P’s’. It stands for: ‘Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance’, if you will pardon my French. But I believe the saying comes from the British Army of all places!
Failure is very much part of our philosophy when it comes to preparing for an abseil like this. What you don’t see in this photo as I hang gloriously at the top of the canyon, is the hours of practices we do on climbing walls, the falls, the equipment stuff ups, the theory test I failed to past and the trips we cancelled due to poor weather. So many fails!
My grandfather always says, “It is ok to make mistakes, but you should never make the same one twice.”
That is where knowledge comes in. Little do we realise that every day we learn by failure.
How to handle our emotions when we don’t achieve the results we want; how to defend better when we let an attacker beat us on the hockey field; and how to complete that algebraic equation when we mess up in our Maths test.
All of these failures give us knowledge. And this knowledge can lead to future success.
So when you get told ‘no, not you this time!’, when you see the red pen on your Maths exam, when you get turned down for a role in the musical, when you don’t make a sports team, know that life is teaching you lessons.
Failure is an integral part of learning. We need to embrace it. Expect it. Own it.
And I believe one day that experience and that knowledge will lead to your success. And you too will be able to celebrate triumphantly, hanging high above your personal canyon of failure.
Molly Dixon (Year 11)
Community and Service Learning Prefect