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Mistakes and Failures Are Our Greatest Teachers: Do We Make the Most of Them?

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Volunteer engagement certainly encounters its fair share of mistakes and failures, which is part of life. But think about it: When was the last time you went to a conference workshop that focused on how someone failed? Don’t we most often focus instead on the successes we've had?

In this Points of View, Rob Jackson and Susan J. Ellis argue that while no one likes to admit – or recall – such uncomfortable experiences, we should learn from them and be willing to share the experiences of mistakes and failures with others. Activities without risk may seem safe, they point out, but “are actually dormant. Worse, they may no longer be helpful to your mission, which means that you are asking volunteers to waste their time.”