The Courage to Fail

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Failure- the second F-word that makes my skin crawl. The first, of course, is fear, although I suppose these two words really go hand in hand. Most of us fear failure all together. Sometimes when we are afraid of something, we fail to see the possibilities it might bring us. When we fail, we fear the outcome or judgements that come next. Failure has been branded as a bad thing…but does it have to be?


I know what you’re thinking: It sucks to fail. Whether it be how it makes you feel about yourself, or how you think others may perceive you, not achieving a goal can be discouraging, embarrassing and downright terrible. But sometimes when we fail, it can bring us the clarity to see where our real goals lie and what we need to work on to get there.


When you are in a group setting, like a class at Tradewinds, it’s so easy to want to be calm, cool and collected all of the time. Having other people around can make it seem like they are watching your every move…and that means you DON’T want to screw anything up. What will it feel like to have to bail out of a lift? Will someone notice if you mess up your pull up or are unable to get all the way down in that squat on the fifth rep? How many people saw you whip yourself with that jump rope on that double under attempt? These thoughts are natural, but they are also detrimental to your progress.


Staying in your comfort zone might feel good, but it won’t get you very far. Sometimes we NEED to fail at something to find our limits and see where our weaknesses lie. When you bail out of a lift, it shows you those small technical pieces you might need to revisit. Not nailing that last squat shows you your true max weight, and how it might be lighter than you think. Whipping yourself with a jump rope hurts like hell, but you realize that you need to work on jumping high enough under fatigue. This might feel like a bad thing, but it actually gives you a goal for the future, and a detailed roadmap on how to get there.


Scale back on the weight and try higher reps. Work diligently on the catch position of your snatch. Squat to depth at a lighter weight consistently. Using your failures to motivate and guide you will bring you more success than ever. Before you know it, you’ll be better.


When we don’t succeed at something, we have the opportunity to grow. This is true in all of life, but can also be applied to the gym. If you never fail at something, how will you ever know what your limits are… and, more importantly, how will you know how to get past them?


Anyone can show up and take the easy route. Anyone can be consistently average. The real success stories, the truly motivated people, the ones we all look up to, are brave enough to reach their limits (safely, of course). Be the person with the courage to fail. You never know where those moments may take you.

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