Why Failure is Key to Success

by Coach Jason Holzer

When you hear the word failure, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? I know for me it used to be coming up short on a desired outcome and then I would give up on it and try something else. I had a skewed vision of what failure really meant and the role it plays in my life. Whenever things didn’t work out the way I hoped they would, I would have a tendency to get frustrated and then come up with excuses on why it wouldn’t work… I didn’t understand that failures are actually the path to success.

Failure is key to success

Michael Jordan said, “I have failed over and over and over again. This is why I succeed” What Jordan was saying is that even though he didn’t get a desired outcome, he never gave up. Instead, he used it as fuel to get better. The only time you can reach absolute failure is when you give up on yourself.  Jordan was determined to be the best, and every time he failed at a skill, drill, or lost a game, he used that as motivation and a sign that he simply just needed to get better. However, simple is not synonymous with easy. He was determined and willing to go after what he desired!

He didn’t complain, he didn’t make excuses, he simply just raised his standards. It took him seven years to win his first championship. Many people have a hard time waiting 7 months, 7 weeks, or 7 days to receive what they say they want. In those 7 years, he had devastating playoff losses, coaching changes, and even started out on teams that had not had much success.  However, he was willing to do whatever it took to be a champion.  

If you have the right perspective when you experience failures in life, they can give you clues on what you need to do to improve. For example: Let’s say you get cut after trying out… What getting cut simply means is that whoever was evaluating you didn’t think you were good enough to be on the team. How you respond to getting cut is a choice you must make for yourself.  We can respond to this situation with a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.

A fixed mindset confirms that you weren’t good enough and there is no reason to try out again next year because you think you weren’t born with the talent needed to play a particular sport. Having this kind of mindset is detrimental to future success because you see failure as a final result.

On the other hand, a growth mindset is more optimistic and sees failure as a stepping stone to success. When you approach life with a growth mindset, you see life as a training ground and when you fail, you learn from it, make a few adjustments and simply keep trying until you arrive at the desired result.  

Anytime you try something new, you are going to fail and mess up. In fact, that’s a good thing because that means you are going beyond your limits. Stepping beyond your limits is necessary for you to achieve worthy goals in life. It is going to feel uncomfortable if you want to make your dreams come true, but that feeling of being uncomfortable is actually a sign that you are moving in the right direction. 

Abraham Maslow said, “You will either step forward into growth, or you will step back into safety.”

Dreams without actions are just illusions. What is one thing you can do today to step forward into growth and go after what you truly want?  If it is something as simple as making the team, ask for guidance from your coach.  What do I need to do to make the team?  Then do what he or she tells you to do.  

The more specific you are, the better advice you will get. If you want to make the A team or Varsity, you are going to get a different response than if you simply just want to make the team. Reflection on our actions, because what you do will show you what you value.  The good news is you can always choose your actions and align them with what you say you really want. 

 Everyday is an opportunity to make yourself a better version of you. When you view failures as opportunities to grow, you don’t see them as failures. You see them as checkpoints that are telling you something isn’t working and to either try again or make an adjustment.  

Finally, encourage yourself to keep going when things aren’t going your way if you are going after what you truly want in life. When you show life you are committed, things start to turn in your favor. Build up your perseverance and amaze yourself with what you can accomplish!

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