Athletic Performance - Ongoing Learning...Sometimes You Have to Fail to Succeed

Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

By Jason Harrell

I recently had a conversation with a colleague about the concept of failure. Often, the same experiences we view as failures can be used as opportunities to grow, learn, and become better versions of ourselves. This scenario is an issue that we all struggle through at one time or another. 

As I explained to my colleague, who is going through the up’s and downs of studying for a large exam, the first step in overcoming failure is to recognize the learning opportunity that is directly in front you and ask yourself “how can I get better?”.  In other words, failure should not be viewed as finite and permanent, but as a sometimes-necessary step for further progress towards eventual success. 

Failing, in an of itself, is better viewed as a momentary event- a practice test for thereal deal. Just as a practice exam is meant to gauge where you are at the moment. In our progress,  failure can provide new information for how better to approach the goal. When you flunk an exam, you look at the questions you got wrong and study your weak points. When you miss a lift or a repetition, check out the video or talk to your coach so you can improve the next week. When your boss calls you in and says you didn’t complete the project as requested, ask for feedback so that you don’t have to repeat that conversation with your boss, because we all know those aren’t fun. 

We should aim to make the most out of everything that happens to us. View everything as a chance to gain insight and self-knowledge, and to sharpen our performance for next time. When we are mentally strong,  we can view mistakes as learning opportunities, not absolute losses. Win or lose, the outcomes of our choices are alluseful information and can be used to drive us forward., ever better and stronger, towards our goals.  

trength is a journey. Enjoy the ride.

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