Michael Jordan: Most people wouldn’t believe that a man often lauded as the best basketball player of all time was actually cut from his high school basketball team. Luckily, Jordan didn’t let this setback stop him from playing the game and he has stated, “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
I don’t like to admit it…but I have failed…and I will fail again.
My first failure-shock
When I was in high school I ran track. I never really put that much effort into running, I was just a fast kid and always had been. I was fast enough to run track in the 100m and 200m. When things come easy and you never really have to put in the effort, you don’t realize the value of hard work.
Well…I found out how hard I wasn’t working.
One day my coach came up to a few of the guys who would run the 200m in the upcoming track meet, keep in mind I was the skinny small white kid…I was just fast enough to be on the team, but not fast enough to win the meets. Anyway, he said, we can only take you (pointing at me), or you (pointing at some new guy who had just transferred to my high school). I was already taken back that I could possibly not be running in the meet, and what was worse some new guy may be taking my spot.
Coach said that we would race right now, and the race would be a 100m curve only. Running the curve on the track is the trickiest part of the 200m, and my coach only cared who could run it well.
Honestly I wasn’t too worried before we started. We both put on our spikes and lined up for the race. Coach started us off and we were both running as fast as we could…I thought the race was going well because I couldn’t see my opponent in my peripheral at all. I figured I had it! However, as soon as the curve straightens back out, the last 10m, the new guy past me and beat me by a shoe’s length.
I had failed. I’ll never forget that feeling. No one cared after I lost; no one but me. I was angry at the new guy, angry at the coach for making the race only a 100m curve and then I was angry at myself for not taking running as seriously as I could.
…it sucked, but I am so glad I failed.
Babe Ruth: You probably know Babe Ruth because of his home run record (714 during his career), but along with all those home runs came a pretty hefty amount of strikeouts as well (1,330 in all). In fact, for decades he held the record for strikeouts. When asked about this he simply said, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.”
Failure is never fun, but it can help…
Right after that failure, I decided I didn’t want that to happen again. I dove into research and training plans to get faster and to win the next race.
However, it was weird what happened next…I found a training plan online and got right to work, but I also found a wealth of information in the process. I started to read about nutrition and other training methods. I started a notebook learning about polysaccharides, disaccharides, healthy fats and unhealthy fats. Like I said, I was the skinny small white kid. I found out that being the skinny small guy could be changed through fitness and nutrition.
I found a new passion – training.
I loved to train and I still love to train. It is the training, the pushing myself, the results, the goals that push me and get me going. Being able to do things I couldn’t before. Getting stronger and faster.
One failure. One missed opportunity laid the foundation for who I am today and what I am truly passionate about.
I couldn’t be happier with a failure. I mean, what if I had won that race??
Failing to fail makes you a failure
Albert Einstein: Most of us take Einstein’s name as synonymous with genius, but he didn’t always show such promise. Einstein did not speak until he was four and did not read until he was seven, causing his teachers and parents to think he was mentally handicapped, slow and anti-social. Eventually, he was expelled from school and was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School. It might have taken him a bit longer, but most people would agree that he caught on pretty well in the end, winning the Nobel Prize and changing the face of modern physics.
Now, you could be one of those people who has never failed at anything in your entire life. If you tell me that I would say you are either A.) a liar B.) someone who doesn’t push it.
I am not saying you need to fail constantly to be a success. I am saying you need to to set goals that are a little scary.
Don’t be the monkey who has to have his hand firmly on one branch before he will let go of the other. Be the monkey who sees the other branch just outside his reach, but decides to go for it anyway…knowing good and well that you could miss.
I need stability, it’s in my DNA. But I am working on being able to take a little more risk…and I am planning on taking some huge risks in a relatively short time period. I am setting goals that could have me end up flat on my face, but I could also end up higher in the tree than when I started.
It’s time to go for it!! And maybe fail up a few times.
Don’t be the person full of regret. Regretting that you didn’t try X; be the person who went for it and didn’t make it, with ZERO regret, or be the person who made it.
Failure is a lesson, not a punishment
Abraham Lincoln: While today he is remembered as one of the greatest leaders of our nation, Lincoln’s life wasn’t so easy. In his youth he went to war a captain and returned a private (if you’re not familiar with military ranks, just know that private is as low as it goes.) Lincoln didn’t stop failing there, however. He started numerous failed business and was defeated in numerous runs he made for public office.
There are two ways to look at failure; a lesson or a punishment. When you go for something and you don’t achieve the desired result do you think…
“Well, that’s what I get for going after such a ridiculous goal”
“Well, that didn’t work, what could I do differently next time”
Failure is always a lesson. I encourage you to actually write down what went well and what didn’t every time you run into a failure. It can only make you better! Failure is not achieving the end-result..that doesn’t mean you didn’t achieve anything. You did something in your process. You picked up new skills, learned new things and got a little bit better. Take your new skill-set and apply it better next time.
I encourage you to swing for the fences, fail a few times, but always get back up, dust yourself off, and keep going.