6 – FAILURE LEADS TO SUCCESS
Failure is literally what got you to where you are.
You failed over and over and over. You know you’d never win a championship overnight. You had to put in the work. And trying new things to continually get better means you’re constantly failing.
You might not have ever thought of it like that because, in your mind, you were just practicing to get better. Which you were. There are hundreds of practices, games, and training hours put in behind the scenes, but each prepares you for your goal, which means there are thousands of failures on your way to success.
Among those practices were so many times you didn’t get it right. You didn’t figure it out. And during meets or games or matches, there were plenty of times where you fell, you screwed up, or you missed the shot. All on your way to becoming better. All of those attempts were the stepping stones to your success– to getting it right.
Even in the pros, you’re considered a Hall of Fame hitter if you’re batting average is above .300… that’s 3 out of 10. That’s literally failing by all other standards. And yet in sports, it’s not. And because we know that failure leads to success, we also know that determination and perseverance are the main components of failing your way to success.
When you’re a baby learning to walk, you didn’t give up the first, second, or tenth time you tried and fell. It wasn’t even an option. You just kept trying. It would be ridiculous if you decided it wasn’t for you!
As we grow up, we think that by the time we’re an adult, we should have figured out how to do things and that if we don’t succeed the first or second time, we need to move on to something else.
But how are you supposed to be great at something you just started?! You have to be ok with being bad at something new. To give yourself grace to be a beginner and time to learn. All of these failures are the stepping stones to your success. Don’t quit a few steps in!
Before I ran track, I was a competitive Level 10 gymnast. I began gymnastics at three and a half years old, and honestly, I don’t remember much about those first couple years except that I loved it and couldn’t wait for practice. As I got older and more experienced, I realized I loved the challenge, learning new skills, and the opportunity to perform to the best of my ability.
Throughout those 13 years and Levels 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10, the skills got harder, trickier, and downright scary. There was a healthy fear of the skills and my ability required to continually out-perform the previous routine, competition, or year. There were plenty of times when I couldn’t figure out a new skill, regardless of how many attempts were made.
And in gymnastics, when you can’t figure something out, it typically means you’re falling. Either on your face, your stomach, your ass — you name it, but it’s most likely not your feet — and it could be from 4’ high off the balance beam, 7’ from the high bar or in the middle of your tumbling pass. Basically, like all gymnasts, I became an expert at falling.
But one of the greatest lessons in gymnastics was perseverance. Late practices, double days, and make-up sessions for unfinished workouts became part of the routine when faced with the time-crunch of an impending competition season.
I kept going because I knew I could do it — I just hadn’t quite figured out how to YET. And with enough repetition, effort, and correction from my coaches, it would literally just click one day and I would begin executing as I should. Once that’s figured out, I’m moving on to the next skill… just in time to start falling all over again.
As an athlete, your entire career is about taking risks, and the more determined you are, the more risks you’ll take. Which means you’ll inevitably fail more.
You know that your talents and abilities can’t stay the same —you can’t remain stagnant because you’ll eventually get beaten. You can’t put yourself on the sidelines and expect to come through in the clutch. You’re constantly pushing yourself to run a little faster, play a little harder, swing a little better, and you’ll do whatever it takes to get yourself there. You’ll never know how great you could be if you don’t make that attempt.
You might not be failing right now, but you probably don’t feel like you’re winning either. And you might not even be sure what you should be determined about. Maybe it’s continuing to train and compete Open once we’re all able to again. Maybe it’s to connect with a team or agency that could sign you. Maybe it’s focusing on your post-grad plans. Maybe it’s time to try new things — things you didn’t have time for as an athlete and always wanted to do. Try something, anything. And if it doesn’t work out immediately, that’s ok. Just try again.
There’s going to be a lot of uncertainty as you’re moving forward, but the most successful people always say their success came from getting back up, staying focused on their goal, and always pushing forward instead of quitting. They just didn’t quit.
If there’s an idea or thought you keep having that will make yourself better and more prepared, go for it and be willing to stick it out through the failures– just like you did throughout your athletic career.
Stay strong and take care!