2-½ minutes to read
Last month I finished a master of library and information science degree. One of the notable aspects of the program is the grading scale:
- 97-100 A
- 94-96 A-
- 91-93 B+
- 88-90 B
- 85-87 B-
- 82-84 C+
- 79-81 C
- 76-78 C-
- 73-75 D+
- 70-72 D
- 67-69 D-
- Below 67 F
When I was a high school student and an undergraduate in college, you only had to get a 90 for an A- and a 70 would get you a C-. At first I thought the grading scale indicated a more rigorous evaluation of a student’s work. Later I found it was a response to professors grading too leniently. Whether because they were buying good student ratings or were overwhelmed by compassion, the result was students who didn’t write well and often lacked the resilience to deal with the workload.
Lower Expectations Leads to Less Quality
Academia isn’t the only place where failure essentially has been eradicated. Command Master Chiefs and Career Counselors, among others in the navy, ensure sailors succeed. This policy is justified by the cost to train a sailor, as high as $1 million for one who will work on a nuclear reactor. From leading petty officers (foremen in civilian life) to the officers in command, sailor retention and advancement is a key indicator of performance.
But there’s no free lunch. The price has to be paid somewhere.
Stress on chief petty officers (supervisors in civilian life) burns them out more quickly and reduces their quality of life. Job satisfaction at all levels is lower. Instead of failing and self-selecting to follow another path, sailors advance despite not liking their work. But the real cost is borne when they finally leave the navy.
Preventing Failure as an Indicator of Success
Chief petty officers and commanding officer take pride in saying none of their sailors failed. But like college professors, their success comes at a price someone else pays. Once out in the civilian job market, where being told no, you don’t qualify, and receiving rejection can be a daily experience, sailors are baffled by their lack of success. Studies show that a veteran who does not build up resilience to such treatment in the first six months after leaving the military is far less likely to ever transition successfully.
Reintegration is made more difficult by having spent longer in the military. They are more set in the military mindset. Making the changes necessary to succeed in civilian life can be hopeless.
People have to be allowed to fail. Denying them this opportunity means taking from them the chance to grow. Rather than basing success on preventing failure, you’re better off showing people, whether your children or employees, how to bounce back from defeat.
While the short-term benefits may be high, in the long term preventing others from failing will lead to their downfall. In the end, if your children and colleagues don’t succeed have you?
Where do you see preventing failure is necessary? Please comment below.