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Loser love: Coping with failure

To present three reasons why we should embrace our failures.

by Helen Redfern

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To present three reasons why we should embrace our failures.

Preparation and materials

  • Two readers (section 1).
  • The song ‘Loser like me’ from the television series Glee, season 2, episode 16 (available to download or on YouTube), to play as the students enter and leave.


  1. Sketch performed by two readers standing in front of a noticeboard

    Reader 1  So are you thinking of signing up to audition for the show?

    Reader 2  Which show?

    Reader 1  The one that you’ve been staring at the notice about for the last five minutes.

    Reader 2  Oh, that one. No, of course not, why would I do that?

    Reader 1  Because you’re good when we act stuff out in class and you sing pretty well, too.

    Reader 2  Well, OK, you’re right. I had been thinking about it. But what if I don’t get in? What if they don’t want me? What kind of failure would I be then? I don’t fancy joining you lot down in Loserville, thanks very much.

    Reader 1  So you’d rather not have a go, and miss out on the whole production, than risk failing?

    Reader 2  Obviously. Everyone’s like that deep down. No one wants to fail.

    Reader 1
     No, but I bet everyone who’s a great success now has failed at some point along the way. That’s life.

    Reader 2
     Well, it’s not my life. I’m no loser and I never intend to be. (Both leave the stage)
  2. Nobody likes to fail. We find it easy to embrace our successes. But embracing our failures? That sounds like madness, doesn’t it? Well, here are three good reasons to embrace our failures.

    Take Jenny, for example. Her dad had set up his own business and she was so proud of him. He was always in the local newspaper and his business was going from strength to strength. Then the recession hit and money became tight and the business began to struggle. Soon everything was gone. The business folded. Everyone lost their jobs. Jenny’s dad had failed. She didn’t feel so proud any more. She didn’t know what to say.

    But six months on, and Jenny’s dad is trying to set up another business. He’s finding that venture capitalists are willing to back him and put money into a new business. Having a failed business under his belt is seen as a positive thing. He’s learned from his mistakes. He’ll use his experience to create a better business.

    So Reason Number One is: Failure helps us to learn from experience.
  3. And then there’s Emmanuel. He’s good at everything. When God was handing out the gifts, he piled them onto Emmanuel. He gets good grades in everything. He looks great and has the pick of the girls. He’s captain of the school football team. He even plays around on the piano and sings in a band.

    But one day he’s told that he’s being released from the football academy that he plays for. He’s not good enough. They don’t want him any more.

    And his whole life falls apart. He’s let his parents down. He’s so disappointed in himself. He’s ashamed to tell his friends. He’s never failed at anything before and doesn’t know how to handle it. His self-esteem is non-existent.

    In a few months’ time, though, Emmanuel will look back and realize all that he has learned from this experience. He’ll be stronger. He’ll no longer be afraid of failure.

    So Reason Number Two: Failure helps us to learn more about ourselves.
  4. And, finally, let’s consider the kids from Glee.

    At McKinley High, you’re respected and looked up to if you’re a cheerleader or a football player. But if you’re in the glee club, then you’re a loser and can expect to be treated like a loser every minute of every day. So it’s a big step for cheerleaders Quinn, Santana and Brittany to join the glee club. Footballers Finn, Puck and Sam take a huge risk in joining glee. All risk losing their credibility. All may now be seen as failures for the rest of their lives.

    But what they do find is true friendship. Not friends whose friendship is dependent on their winning the next football tournament or lifting the next cheerleading trophy. Friends who accept them just as they are. Friends who will let them take risks, and be alongside them in the failures as well as the successes.

    So Reason Number Three: Failure helps us to learn who our true friends really are.

Time for reflection

Let’s take a few moments to reflect on what we have heard today.

Failure is hard.
It hurts.
It makes us feel ashamed.

Fear of failure holds us back.
We are scared to try new things.
We are afraid to take risks.

But failure helps us to learn from experience.
We won’t make the same mistakes twice.
We will grow in wisdom and maturity.

And failure helps us to learn about ourselves.
We won’t fear failure so much the next time.
We will grow in strength and self-acceptance.

Failure helps us to learn who our true friends really are.
We will know who to turn to when we fail.
We will grow in friendship and belonging.

It’s time to take a risk.
It’s time to sign up.
It’s time to embrace failure.


As the students leave, play ‘Loser like me’ by the Glee cast.

Publication date: September 2011   (Vol.13 No.9)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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