Why the ability to fail is the key to success


One of the first things I teach my athletes and the people I work with, is the ability to fail.
This is a slow, and gradual process, which takes time and persistence.
I implement it in the training plans, I talk about it, and finally I ask them to fail.
Failing is not an accident, it is a key element of becoming very good at what you do.

It doesn’t matter if you were born a billionaire or in the ghetto – your life will offer plenty of challenges for you. This is why you decided to come to life, and to be right there, where you are now. These challenges sometimes make you feel like all the world is against you, they may make you feel like there is not a bit of chance or hope left, or they may cause you to feel like the king of the world, when you have solved one. We may call these challenges “problems”, “disasters”, “catastrophes” or “issues”, but they are nothing more and nothing less than our next opportunity to feel how strong we really are, how intelligent we really are and what we are capable of, when we have to put ourselves on the line. They are our next opportunity to use our potential and feel great about it.

However, many people have a pretty weird definition of failing.
I have never heard of a single baby who had a burnout or a nervous breakdown, just because it had not succeeded in a first, second, third or any later attempt to do something.
But the older we get, the more we attain a questionable attitude towards failing: we regard failing as a dead end street, as a personal set-back, and as something to be terribly embarrassed about.

Many people, especially many athletes, come to the point where their view on failing has become so severely negative that they frequently prefer not to try their best, or even sabotage their own efforts, just to be able to say: “if I fail, it doesn’t matter, because I have not tried my best anyway. I could have done a lot better, if I wanted.”
My usual reply: Not true. You are afraid to fail, when there is no reason to be afraid.  Trying your best was too great of a risk to find out your current limits.

However, if you don’t try your best approach to solve a problem, you will never leave your comfort zone. And if you never leave your comfort zone – or even worse: if you never even come close to see the boarder of your comfort zone, this zone of comfort will become  v e r y small.  It will become so small, that even the slightes set-back is effective enough to put you in a state of massive self-doubt. Self doubt comes from your confusing expectation to be able to solve every problem in advance or, if not possible, as soon as a problem occurs. Logically, this is neither possible, nor intended to be.

To fail means that you have just found out that one attempt has not worked. So what. Get over it and try again, try a different approach and calm down. If you don’t have challenges, you don’t have a life.

Try your very best, try your most intelligent approach, but do not be disappointed if it is not enough yet to make it. Only if you try your very best, your mind and your body will grow, so that you next-time-very-best becomes better every time, until it is enough. Then you feel like the king of the world, and then you know, that succeeding feels great because of the failures you have experienced before.



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