What would your life look like if you knew failure is not possible?
Failure does not exist in this dojo…
The time I ‘failed’ and learned so much about the concept of failure
Last week I was running one of my awesome personal training clients through some fitness bench marking, establishing where she was at. Due to spending a couple of months injured, her maximum repetitions in some of the exercises had dropped since our previous benchmarking. Not a surprising result considering the time we had to take off some of the exercises!
My client went through the list of benchmarks pointing at those that weren’t as good as last time and said “Fail, fail, fail, fail” as she ticked them off.
This made me once again think about the word Fail.
Personally I refuse to use it. I don’t think it’s accurate or useful. What on earth is failing? Giving your all to complete a 10 km run to not hit the exact time you’d hoped for? No way. Slipping from 40 pushups to 35 pushups after an injury? Nope. It’s a step towards the goal, a lesson, or perhaps a slight delay. Is giving up your fitness regime for a while failure? Nope, just a pause, veering away from your preferred path, and another lesson.
In 2010 I travelled to Sydney to do a half marathon.
I had a goal time of 1:40. I knew I could hit this time if my persistent calf cramping would just behave itself. 10 kms in I was rocking it. Keeping to a steady 4:45 pace and feeling pushed but strong. By the time I climbed the hill to run around Darling Harbour my calf was niggling. And then BOOM – right calf cramp. I stopped to stretch and slowed a little. Left calf cramp! By 17km I was in agony with both calves cramping. I’d stop to stretch and swear, and then they’d both seize up again as I jogged really slowly. Stupidly I wanted to finish so I staggered between a walk and painful jog for the remaining 4km (which felt like an eternity).
I crossed the line just over 2 hours, crying. I felt like I’d failed.
Now some people would be stoked to finish a half marathon. Others would be very pleased with that time. I needed to stop being so hard on myself and see the experience for what it was. A lesson about my body, training, hydration, nutrition and a small step back in the larger picture of my health and fitness. Hardly the end of the world and a failure!
Do you have a huge, hairy, scary goal looming?
Whether it’s a fitness event, a presentation to a room full of people, a project you’re responsible for, or starting a new role – it’s all scary because it’s new and you’re afraid you’ll ‘fail’ right? I always urge our runners before tackling a scary new distance to really think about what they’re scared of. What’s the worst case scenario? You’re not prepared so you have to walk some or all the distance? Is that really so bad? Is it failure? Nope, it just teaches you some more lessons about how to train for the next one! What if you have to pull out of the race? That’s ok, just another lesson and you’ll do it next time!
I urge you to take the concept of failure out of your brain, take a good look at it and shake it around a little.
Think instead of lessons, steps backwards before moving forwards, small pauses, or glitches. Failure is too final and doesn’t reflect the ongoing nature of all goals and achievements.
What would your life look like if you truly believed failure is not possible?