Using Failure to Create Success | The Intrepid Hearts

There is no innovation and creativity without failure
— Bren√© Brown

"You will fail."

This is how I start one of the first games I play with my Improv students every semester. It's called the Impossible Scene game. There are only five rules that the players must follow, and if they break any of them the entire class yells out "IMPOSSIBLE!", bursts into wild applause, and two new players jump onstage ready to go. Typically, I'll get the next pair of players by shouting out, "Who's ready to fail next?!"

You would think that if you told someone that they would fail at a game they wouldn't even want to try to do it. However, that's never been the attitude I've seen in class. These kids can barely wait to get up onstage to try and complete the game even though I've already told them that they're going to fail at it. Often times, multiple kids rush to the stage to play.

This is the whole point of the game. I want my students to be unafraid of falling flat on their face, and if that does happen, I want them to get back up and go at it again. As audience members, I want them to cheer on their classmates whenever they fail because it's important to celebrate that that person dares to fail.

Recently, I started thinking about what would happen if we embodied the energy of these students playing the Impossible Scene game every day of our lives. I feel like we'd see a transformation. Instead of allowing our perceived failures to stop us, we'd jump right back into the ring ready to try again.

Rather than feeling like we have to go at it alone, we'd build a community of people ready to cheer us on and encourage us to keep going should we "mess up". We'd be more empathetic about other peoples' failures because we'd know that they were trying their best. Instead of tearing others down, we'd build them up.

I'd like to challenge you this week to play your own version of the Impossible Scene game. If you fall on your face, don't tear yourself apart. Celebrate the fact that you totally kicked ass trying, get back up, and get back to work. Whatever you do, don't stop moving forward! Use what you've learned from each failure to innovate and create something magnificent.

Now, who's ready to fail?