Saturday, November 22, 2014

Persevere Through Failure Don't Embrace It

Quitting isn't always bad. In fact there is probably more written on how to fail and way of embracing and learning from failure than there are on maintaining. It's getting to the point where the tagline 'embrace failure' is cliche and turns up in some form or another without clear definition almost everywhere you look in motivational, business, and sport writing. This leads me to believe that we must fail a lot. Afterall we a spending a lot of time learning how to be good at it! It is true that I have failed and given up on a lot of different activities, hobbies, interests, occupations, and lifestyles in my past. In fact one of the character traits I am most proud of has been my willingness to adapt to new circumstances (i.e. give up on the old) and embrace new experiences. On the other hand I also have goals some of which require intense dedication and effort. If I were to stop before I reach the end of them the negatives of failure would far outweigh the pain and suffering it will take to finish. What is more important than failure? Obviously it is learning from your mistakes. OK so do I need to fail to learn from mistakes? I don't think so. What I would be better off doing is practicing ways of not-failing by learning from the mistakes and failures of others. Afterall there are somethings I really really don't want to fail at.

Sometimes, Failure Isn't An Option!

It turns out that most athletes quit their sport as a result of injury. Injury prevention is sometimes a factor that you forget about until it's too late. It's hard to imagine how this sort of failure can in any way be good. Being forced out of something you love to do would be extremely difficult and traumatic. Unless you are planning to fail in a safe way related to sports it doesn't seem like there is much benefit to the activity. In fact the job of most coaches is to prevent an athlete from failing.

Tired? Injured? Or Just Feeling Like Quitting?

Another kind of failure is the desire to simply quit after a certain length of time pursuing an activity. As time progresses it is obvious that what was originally an interesting and engaging activity may become less exciting for the participant athlete. Even people who are passionate and love a sport may eventually come to a point where they feel ready to turn their efforts onto a new pursuit. In many cases the motivations and goals that enticed the participant to join the activities in the first place no longer exist or can be satisfied in other ways. A lot of people simply experience burn-out by pushing themselves too far too quickly, they are unable to step-up to the challenge of a higher competitive level, physical factors prevent sport specific excellence, increased interest in another activity or sport, and possibly an extremely unpleasant experience related to the sport. Quitting something is never a black and white issue. Any number of these factors could be a good reason to leave the sport. Ultimately you have to ask yourself am I leaving because I think that failure is OK or am I leaving because I can succeed better doing something else. If you are accepting your failure just because you believe that failure is somehow always a good thing you probably aren't leaving for the right reasons. So don't give into failure because you think you will learn something where you could have persevered and accomplished something great, give into failure when you won't be getting returns on your invested effort.