Phoenix Flops partners with the Center for Design Thinking to explore the role of failure in wellness and resilience

Phoenix Flops partners with the Center for Design Thinking to explore the role of failure in wellness and resilience. The next Flop Shop will be on Jan. 9 in the Center for Design Thinking.

The world likes to surprise us in ways ranging from nightmares to delights. Humans like to make plans and set expectations. We’re hopeful animals. Whenever a gap emerges between the world we wanted and the world we are in, how do we respond well?

The Phoenix Flops program came to life in January 2017. Co-founders Tyson Glover ’17, now assistant director of admissions at Elon, and Caroline Dean ’18, now a student in Elon’s master of arts in higher education program, explained that defining the relationship between failure and resiliency is one of the overarching goals of the “flopshops” programming.

Turning Failure Into Growth

“We want participants to understand that failure is a stepping stone toward success,” Glover explained. “It is completely normal to fail at different aspects in life, whether those are personal, professional, et cetera. The key is coming up with a toolkit for how to ‘fail forward’ after these setbacks.”
Phoenix Flops student facilitator Daniela Nasser ’20 agreed, saying the mindset that failure must always be negative holds some people back from moving towards their dreams. Flop shops explore the learning experiences that emerge from failure when it is seen as an inherent part of life, instead of something shameful to hide from the world.

The Phoenix Flops program found the perfect partner with the Center for Design Thinking because, as Glover explained, “Prototyping is one of the essential components of the design thinking process. If we can have participants understand that failure and prototyping share the same DNA, we can help them move forward with this concept in their everyday lives as well.”

Embracing Failure With a Growth Mindset

Daniela Nasser ’20

Nasser, a Leadership Fellow and student leader at Elon, said she learned to be resilient at a very young age. However, as she grew up, she began to notice some of her peers struggling to deal with setbacks.
Nasser explained that “digital natives,” who grew up around social media, often don’t have the tools or context to approach failure.

“The way people tend to depict their lives online makes it seem as if they are living an ideal life,” she said. “That makes the rest of us want to pursue perfection” – even when that goal is unrealistic.

Nasser said there’s always a way to reframe life’s “flops” as opportunities to learn something new about yourself.

No Shortage of Potential
Phoenix Flops presented at the Intersect Conference in mid-November and in the Center for Design Thinking in December. The program has also partnered with various groups across Elon’s campus, including new student orientation and Elon 101.

“Anytime an organization wishes to partner with us, we welcome it,” Glover said. “We can all benefit from the shared experience.”

What does the future hold for this partnership? Glover said he is excited to see the partnership with the Center for Design Thinking continue to thrive.

On Jan. 9, they plan to hold a lunch Flop Shop in the Center for Design Thinking. Interested Elon faculty, staff, and students can register here.