BYU professor Cassy Budd wants students to learn from their failures

Cassy Budd has learned to find strength in her failures.
Cassy Budd speaks to students about learning to find strength in her failures by relying on the Savior and His guidance. (Ryan Turner)

BYU School of Accountancy professor Cassy Budd addressed students at the Devotional on Feb. 14 about the importance of failure and learning from mistakes.

In her talk titled, “On Failure and Finishing,” Budd spoke about times when she felt she had failed but was later strengthened because of her perceived failures.

One example Budd gave was of her first piano teacher, who she believed always had high expectations concerning mastery and who would flick her fingers with a pencil when Budd made a mistake. This led to a lifelong habit of pulling her hands away from the keys whenever she made a mistake. Budd said the paralysis from mistakes is still with her today but cannot be blamed on anyone else.

“When you allow yourself to be paralyzed by your mistakes, you diminish your ability to be useful in God’s kingdom. Making mistakes is simply part of the human condition and can be one of your most productive learning tools,” Budd said.

Recognizing mistakes is one thing, but learning how to continue through them in the most effective way is another, according to Budd.

Budd said she tells these stories of failure because she has learned great strength comes from acknowledging failure.

Budd shared a story of when she and her husband decided to take a ski instructor class with some faculty in her department and their spouses.

She felt as though she was making many mistakes and her skills were not as advanced as those of her classmates, but she resolved to finish the class after seeing her colleagues’ enthusiasm at work the next week.

“I didn’t become an incredible skier overnight, or ever. I did join the intermediate group for a few runs toward the end of the course, but I was always the last one down the mountain. Still, even I could see that I had improved,” Budd said.

This experience led Budd to learn the value of trying and doing ones’ best despite experience, failures or how well one thinks they can do.

It is also important to recognize the efforts of others and celebrate their improvements, according to Budd.

“Try to listen to the patient instruction of the Savior; try to imitate his movements; try to ignore the negative self-talk when your movements don’t measure up; try to focus on the joy in the learning instead of the defeat in the failure,” Budd said.

Budd also spoke about her experience spelunking in Spanish Moss cave with her family and two former students. She said she was not experienced in rock climbing but excited to go nonetheless. The group was met with darkness in the cave and had their headlamps as their only light source.

They made their way back up after exploring for a couple of hours, but Budd said she found the ascend particularly difficult and fear overcame her. She was eventually able to make it out with the help of her husband and some others.

Everyone is in need of others’ help and at times need to rely on them because our own abilities may not be enough, Budd said.

“These are the times that your Savior pulls you up out of the darkness, if you will let go and take His hand. These are the times that His voice guides you to safety, if you will listen carefully. And it is for these times that He descended below all things to become your stepping stone,” Budd said.

Budd spoke of the Japanese art form of repairing pottery known as Kintsugi where cracks are filled with a lacquer made of gold, silver or platinum to restore the piece to something even more beautiful than the original.

“Kintsugi teaches that scars are not something to hide, rather they are to be celebrated for the unique beauty they exhibit. The scars themselves are considered precious, and therefore, mended with precious metals to honor their value,” Budd said.

Budd said this is similar to honoring the scars of Christ, who has engraven us in the palms of His hands.

“Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, desires to mend your broken pieces, to fill your empty spaces, to make of you a vessel that is more beautiful and whole. May each of you find strength to fail, and, in the hands of your Savior, the power to finish.” Budd said.

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