Fail, Fail Often, & Fail Forward

fail forward
Failing. I don’t care who you are. But we all fail. Some of us fail big. Some of us fail small. And while failure is perceived to be this super negative thing, it’s actually the biggest learning tool we have. Today I want to share my story of  failure. And how I used the concept of “fail, fail often, and fail forward” to reach my ultimate potential.

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark. ”
Michelangelo

9 years ago , I had experienced one of the worst days of my entire life. After our spring game at WCUPA , I was called into exit meetings with my coaches. When I walked into the coaching offices I noticed the coaches were having an intense discussion about something , I wasn’t sure what, but when I walked in all the talking stopped. I sat down and was informed that I was not needed on the 2010 WCUPA Football team. And just like that, my 12 year football career was over.

I was a good football player, but I didn’t make enough big plays. And they felt the young linebackers could do as good as a job and needed the experience (I didn’t disagree) . One things I have always been is a hard worker, I watched hours and hours of film, stayed on campus all summer to train, and practice hard. I took my shots, but just came up short. And I didn’t realize it at the time , but this became a character defining moment for me .

I worked my butt off my entire life to play football at that level…

Football was the most constant thing in my life. It had defined me. I tried my best and came up short. It took me years and years for the lesson to set in . But I realized failing this big, at something this important, that I worked so hard for, had made me a little fearless. The scariest thing I could think of (in regards to the pursuit of my goals) had happened to me. And I was OK. It was freeing to realize that the beauty is in the pursuit and reaching your goal is just the icing on the cake .

Aim high, work your butt off, and keep pushing until you succeed. Many people are afraid to go “all in” on goals for one simple reason. The fear of failure. What happens if I give my all and I still fail? Does that make me a failure? Then what? Often times after we fail, we decide to pick ourselves up. And thats where the magic happens. People who achieve great things are all to familiar with this. Most of them are constantly trying things and failing. Heck, thats pretty much what the scientific method is! Repeated failure until we prove or disprove our hypothesis . So how to we stop being afraid to fail and start using failures to help us grow and reach our goals?

1.) Get knocked on your ass:

This one is simple , not super fun, and a little terrifying . We need to experience trying our best and coming up short. In weightlifting , this can be relatively easy, it can even happen by accident. My first meet, I went 1 for 6. I only made my very last Clean and Jerk. I was bummed, a little embarrassed, and completely hooked on weightlifting . It is infinitely worse to aim low and hit, than to aim high and miss.

2.) Don’t get Bitter…Get Better:

Every loss is a lesson. If we can remain cool headed and reflect, we can find a way to turn any set back into a springboard towards your next success. Remember you are not your outcomes. When we come up short, it is just another growth opportunity .

3.) Apply What you’ve Learned and Try Again: 

This is where the magic happens. Once you’ve dusted yourself off and reflected on your experiences its time to ACT. Every time you approach your goals you should EXPECT to be successful . However IF you come up short again repeat the process until you have arrived at your goal .

4.) Enjoy the Process: 

Big goals require long hours, hard work,  a game plan , and a certain level of stubbornness. Along the way every day will NOT be all sunshine and rainbows, you will be frustrated, want to quit , and doubt yourself… DON’T  You may never actually reach your goal , but understand the magic is in the process. When we reflect back on when we have achieved our biggest victories most of the time we come to realize the prize is in the process.

Do not allow fear to stop you from chasing your dreams. Fail often and fail forward. Find a mentor, build a team around you, and never lose sight of why you started. Failure is never permanent until you quit.

TOM DUER: Co-Owner; BS, CSCS TSAC USAW-Level 1

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