In our African cultures, we can be too scared of failure to start. We worry about wasting money. We worry about what others will think or say behind our backs. It takes confidence to take a risk. 

Can we become confident enough to fail?

Michael Jordan is one of the most famous and successful basketball players of all time. He knows a lot about success and confidence. But he also knows a lot about failure. Read his words below:

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I have been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I have failed over, and over, and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Task: Use the sentence starters below to answer the questions.

  • I think that Michael Jordan believes that his failure led to his success because…
  • Failure can lead to success by…

The links between failure and confidence

In this section, you are going to explore the Cycle of Success. You can develop confidence through success, but you need to experience and learn from failure in order to become successful.

Task: Read the model explaining the Cycle of Success. Trying to do something you cannot yet do will probably lead to failure. What is important is that you learn from that failure. Try to learn from that failure so that you will have a greater chance of success the next time you try to do that thing. Eventually, you will have learned enough to be successful. You can set yourself a harder challenge and begin the Cycle of Success again at that point! That is why it is called a cycle.


If young women are to understand self-confidence, it helps if they can identify what it looks like, and especially what it looks like in their own cultures. Here are some exercises you can do with your mentee to help her to think about this:

Which people are confident?

Who are the three most confident people you can think of? They should be a mixture of famous people and people you know in real life.

Task: List the three most confident people that you know. For each one, add a sentence explaining what makes them confident.

  • Person #1:
  • Person #2:
  • Person #3:

Task: Complete the sentences.

  • My friends think I’m awesome because …
  • My classmates say I’m the greatest …
  • I make my family happy when I …

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