Words of Wisdom for
Leadership, Learning, and Life in
Exactly 99 Words

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Talk Quick!
99-Word Stories to Spark Discussion about Common Management Issues
by Brian Remer

Talk Quick! is a collection of group discussion starters designed to inspire meaningful conversations about important management issues.
(12 Discussion Activities, 33 pages, Cross Referenced, $10)

Learn more HERE.

99's On the Go

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99-Word Stories by ,
Creative Learning Director of
The Flirefly Group.
© 2018 Brian Remer
Updated Mar. 2018

99's on the 9th

Ideas based on 99-Word Stories that
come to you on the 9th of every month.

March 2018

Fall for Success:
Controlled Failure

Leaders, managers, supervisors, coaches, and mentors all find themselves teaching at some point. And if you are helping people learn, you will inevitably see them fail. Learning and failure are interrelated. But how far do people need to fall in order to learn your lesson? Strike up a conversation about learning, failure, and growth with your team using the 99-Word Story, discussion questions, and interpretation in our March newsletter

Fall for Success

I ran for miles and miles beside my daughter as she learned to ride a bicycle. I was determined she would learn without ever falling down. For weeks we practiced.

Balancing her was awkward, especially when she turned away from me. But when she turned to my direction, I could support her as she leaned into the turn. And the harder she leaned, the tighter and faster the turn. So, turning a bicycle is like falling!

Eureka! To change your life direction, you have to take risks. You have to become an expert in controlled falling.



You can build upon the theme of this 99-Word Story by using some of the following questions for your own reflection or to spark a discussion within your team or organization.


There are many ways to understand this story as the discussion questions suggest. If you or your group would like to compare or contrast your interpretation with an outside viewpoint, consider this analysis.

I once worked with an organization that helped people with cognitive and developmental disabilities. The focus of the organization was to help people find a valued place in society; to become a contributing member of their community. For some, they needed a place to live. Others needed friends, people who cared about them, and worthwhile things to do. Still others needed a job that paid a living wage

But for many, these simple desires seemed beyond reach because of their disabilities. For those who had difficulty communicating with words, those who didn't understand social cues, or those who didn't have control of their physical movements, meeting people, making friends, finding work, or taking care of themselves was a challenge.

In order to take their place in society, people with disabilities need support. And, fortunately, there are many other people willing to provide that support.

But what should that support look like? With the complex needs some people have it would be easy to jump in and do things for them. It's faster and a whole lot easier. In fact, that's what many people in support roles do. They become caretakers filling all the needs of the person with a disability. They wear themselves out and, in the process, make the person with a disability dependent upon them.

This is great for job security but does little to help someone with a disability become integral to their community.

The people who provide the best support are those who think of themselves as teachers. They set up an environment where the person with a disability whom they support can try new things, practice new strategies, and make mistakes. These teachers know that people with disabilities have suffered incredible heartbreak from making mistakes. So they practice the art of controlled falling. They expect success but plan for failure - failure in just the right amount that the person they are teaching can experience success while also understanding they have more to learn. The support people call this a "just right challenge."

A just right challenge is individualized. It encourages the learner to take a risk without being in danger. It makes the learner stretch their abilities far enough that they can see their own potential for greater growth.

For people with disabilities, children and parents, employees and supervisors, and in all types of learning, failure is important. It shows us how far we've come and how much further we can go. But no one needs to fail so far that they break their elbow or their ego and never want to get on the bicycle again.

For More Information, see these books as reviewed in The Firefly News Flash:

Failure by Stuart Firestein (April 2016)

Nonsense by Jamie Holmes (February 2016)


Did you use this 99-Word Story and the discussion questions or interpretation in your work or personal life? If so, about your experience! If you would like help using 99-Word Stories in your organization, please me.

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