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Bite-sized stories of failure and success. Failure bites. It’s painful, discouraging and embarrassing. Just the idea of failure, whether it’s a big messy fail or a small setback, can be hard to digest. It’s time to change the way we think about failure. Yes, failure may be all of those negative things, but failure is also a very important part of learning and growing. Behind every great success story is a long series of failures and challenges that were also learning experiences. Join host Dr. Kristin Brynteson as she talks with successful people about failure, growth and success to inspire you and take the bite out of failure.

Failure Bites - George Couros - 'A for Effort'

S01E10: A for Effort – George Couros

Sometimes, avoiding failure means changing our outlooks. George Couros discusses his attitude adjustment on the season one finale of Failure Bites.

Follow George Couros on Twitter: twitter.com/gcouros

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KB: Welcome to another to another episode of Failure Bites. I'm your host Kristin Brynteson, telling you the truth about failure. In life, we have choices. Small, every day choices: what to eat, what to wear. And big life-altering choices: what to study, where to work, what to do with our lives. As we make these choices, we sometimes forget about one of the most important choices: our attitude. Or rather, how we think and feel about the world around us. Choosing a bad or negative attitude can set us on the wrong path. Think of the mutants in the Marvel universe. They were not born heroes or villains; they were a product of their attitude. On this episode of Failure Bites, we talk to one of my educational heroes and author of The Innovator's Mindset, George Couros. Let's hear how his change in attitude had a big impact on his life.

GC: Actually, I really had an opportunity just recently to speak at where I used to teach, geez maybe ten, eleven years ago. And somebody came up to me after and they said, some of the teachers I work with told me they knew you from when you were here, and it's just been incredible to see some of the work you're doing today and all these people and you're getting to keynote this conference. And I'm like, thank you. And they said, yeah, and they said you weren't a really good teacher. Well, and I said, I don't think I was, to be honest with you. I actually think at that time in my life, I wasn't really a teacher. I wasn't really passionate about it. 

And I'm comfortable saying that and honestly, I think that if anyone listening to this has been in education for twenty years or longer, if we don't look back on our--on earlier in our career with a little bit of shame, you probably haven't been doing that well, to be honest with you because I think that if you look back at your first five, ten years when you're in twenty years, you should be like I can't even believe I used to do that. You should have a little bit of embarrassment, right? 'Cause you should have grown and become better in the work that you're doing. And so, I think about that time because I think my third job, I spent five years at a school. I was done with education. I hated it. I just didn't have passion, it was basically something that paid the bills. And just, some events here and there led to me leaving that school. And nothing bad, but I just wanted a change of scenery because I lived in a very small town and I wanted to move to a larger center.

I was actually going to quit, and then, somebody gave me the interview and I got the job, and I said, okay one more year. One more year, I'm going to see how this goes. I remember the boss that I had--her name's Kelly Wilkins--and she made such a significant impact on me. And I credit her with basically everything I'm doing here today because she just did so much for my career and the way she made me think and how incredible of a leader she was--how she just brought the best out in people and if I could impact, you know, a tenth of the people she impacted, I'll have a very good career. And I totally changed my attitude towards teaching. I totally changed my belief and I'll be honest with you... I spent five years at that school only because I couldn't get a job anywhere else. Like, nobody was taking me. It was very hard to get a job. There weren't many opportunities. And I remember when I took this job, I said I'm never going to struggle to get another job ever again. And it doesn't bother me that some of the teachers I used to work with are surprised at the way I think, some of the work that I do today because I'll be honest with you I could have been a way better teacher at that time and I think I developed significantly because of a change of leadership, but more importantly, a change of attitude in the work that I do. And so, I've always decided that I'm going to do my best to create my own opportunities so I'm not counting necessarily on other people to do that for me. It's really weird to think back on how I viewed not only myself but education at the time. Now, I can't imagine doing anything else because of how much I love it.

KB: George's story teaches us a lot about how attitude can affect success. A negative attitude can hide your true potential and make you feel like you're failing. But changing your attitude is not easy. It is especially hard to make that change on your own. It's easier when you have a positive leader, role model, or mentor who can help you make a change. What would the X-Men if it were not for Professor X? They'd be one hot mess of bad attitudes. I'm looking at you, Wolverine. Professor X gave them the positive environment they needed to unleash their heroic potential. So, if you find yourself in a dark place, check your attitude, make a choice to change it. If that change seems too monumental to tackle on your own, find the positive people who can help you unleash your hidden potential. I'm Kristin Brynteson, and you've been listening to Failure Bites, taking the bite out of failure, one story at a time. You can hear more from our conversation with George on an upcoming episode of the STEM Read Podcast. Both Failure Bites and the STEM Read Podcast are available where all of your favorite podcasts are found. We hope you choose to subscribe and leave a review. This podcast was produced by NIU STEAM at Northern Illinois University. Your future, our focus.


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