BoingBoing posts on Why does failure inspire some and demoralize others?, which links to this 2007 article on the work of Carol Dweck.
Dweck is looking at why some people – schoolchildren, students, sports stars (bizarrely, Blackburn Rovers, who probably need all the help they can get) – persevere and others don’t, and attributes some of the difference to study skills and learning skills. Culture and the mindset – the expectations of learners – play a large role: essential, how we deal with failure, and whether we label it as failure at all.
…capable students thought they lacked ability just because they’d hit a setback. Common sense suggests that ability inspires self-confidence. And it does for a while—so long as the going is easy. But setbacks change everything. Dweck realized—and, with colleague Elaine Elliott soon demonstrated—that the difference lay in the kids’ goals. “The mastery-oriented children are really hell-bent on learning something,” Dweck says, and “learning goals” inspire a different chain of thoughts and behaviors than “performance goals.”
I am reminded of a quotation by Thomas Edison, when he was trying to develop batteries: “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work“.