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“Because they have rarely failed, they have never learned how to learn from failure” (Argyris, 1991)

The quote mentioned above, is something that caught my eye in this week’s reading called Teaching Smart People How to Learn by Chris Argyis. In my previous reflection I mentioned a lot about my failures. I condoned my lack of confidence as a potential underlying symptom of my failures and have tried to build up my confidence as well as be more organized since then. I am slowly making progress with my confidence e.g my presentation for one of my papers was to a standard I refer to as a success. Success and failure is different for everyone, for me meeting all the presentation and assignment requirements and managing to stay on top of my other class requirements so far has been a success and in this way I have learnt from my failures. In this weeks journal I will reflect on the implications of Chris’s (1991) reading to my level of thinking about failing.

Let’s start with Chris Argyris (1991) article title “teaching ‘SMART’ people how to learn”. It seems Chris (1991) associates smart people as well educated, high powered, high commitment professionals occupying leadership in modern corporations. These people are assumed to be the best at learning; however in Chris’(1991) article he mentions that these supposedly smart people are poor at learning. Chris (1991) states that the reason that many professionals are only good at single loop learning rather than the advanced learning which is called double loop learning is that they have rarely failed therefore they have never learned how to learn from failure. Now for someone who always looked at failure as a lack of success, this brings a new spin on things, it’s okay to fail?.  Rather than looking at failure as a step backward, I should look at failure as a step to the side so I can see a different way of proceeding forward. I believe failing indeed has helped me to accept criticism, but when you fail too much, putting the “blame on everyone else” and being in denial can also be as lethal as rarely failing.

From reflecting on my past failures, I realise that I indeed have learnt a lot of things, however behavioural changes learnt from these failures depended on how bad the failure was. Some things I have repeatedly failed over and over again, but in saying so I got to my goal in the end. So rather giving up on life after a setback, or doing nothing about my failures which I usually do. I shall endeavor to stop being so negative when I fail, and take it as a learning curve because even professional need to make mistakes here and there to succeed.

Argyris, C. (1991). Teaching smart people how to learnReflections, 4(2), 4–15 


  1. Hey Salome nice journal entry this week I liked seeing you refer to the readings clearly while adding in your own opinions. I can not really think of any improvements, but I just want to say that I liked the idea about failure and success being different for everyone. You clearly have interesting opinions so have more confidence in yourself. See you in class this week.

  2. Hey Salome. I enjoyed reading this journal as I do agree with the logic that there are certain people who have rarely failed and learn from their success rather than their mistakes.
    I do believe that some people will view success and failure both differently and react towards it differently also.
    I personally think depending on the magnitude of the result of success or failure it will affect the attitude of a person and their reaction to it.
    Although I do see the logic in how professionals do a lot of single loop learning because of their lack of failure I also believe that in order to reach the next level of success, one must step outside and think more critically from another view point that they may not have seen themselves as they keep doing the same thing that made them successful.
    It's good to see that failure does not make you weak but the extra motivation to become stronger to improve.

    Keep up the good work. See you in class.