“failure” as a measure of success

I’ve always been kind of a klutz.

Dropping my phone, dropping utensils, bumping into walls… I wasn’t the most coordinated kid. I’ve gotten better with body and spatial awareness as I’ve gotten older, but I’m still a klutz.

Falling down is not uncommon for me. I enjoy moving and using my body to explore the world. Did the traditional sports growing up, and still enjoy them: basketball, volleyball, cheerleading, and swimming. My favorite class was admittedly PE! I loved the variety and being able to just play outside for an hour every day. I wish this class existed for adults. I didn’t care how much I sweat; I was just having fun being in the fresh air.

I’ve noticed in my adult years that I enjoy and try my hand at non-traditional sports: snowboarding, surfing, skateboarding, yoga, rock climbing, CrossFit, and Spartan races. They’re all unique and allow me opportunities to express my fitness in different ways.

One risk of any sport, or anything in life, is injury. I have many battle scars now to prove this. Multiple gashes in my shins from failed box jumps (even got 4 stitches once)… really bad hip bruises from skating falls… bruises and cuts from Spartan races… and always fearing “yup, this is it, I’m paralyzed now” when I eat it badly while snowboarding.

I take calculated risks and wear the appropriate safety gear. But I feel the same way about these battle scars as I do about really bad tan lines in the summer – these marks prove I have lived. I have tan lines because I was out in the sunshine. I have scars and bumps and bruises because I was out there moving my body and engaging with LIFE.

This translates well into life in general. I actually thrive under pressure. I not only anticipate, but also look forward to, “failure.” I don’t think you ever fail at things; you either win or you learn, both of which are WINS to me! Whenever I go ice skating, I look forward to my first fall, because then I’m no longer afraid of falling. When I try a new lift or a new sport, I enjoy the stumbles. They show me the progress I’m making and the areas in which I need to grow. When I explore a new city or country, I LOVE finding my bearings and getting a little lost along the way.

“Failure” is just an indicator. It tells me that I am doing something I am not comfortable with, that I am pushing my boundaries, and that I am engaged in the world. The only time I actually ever fail is when I’m not OUT THERE and “failing!”

I’m not saying to keep making the same mistakes. I shouldn’t keep failing the same box jump height if I am appropriately growing. I shouldn’t keep falling at the same skate ramp if I go consistently. I am saying the objective is to keep failing bigger and better. Spiral upwards. Succeed at your previous failures. Grow strong enough to attempt bigger and harder things, which will lead to bigger and bolder failures, which will make you a braver and more authentic “you.”

What can you risk today? This summer? How can you stick your neck on the line? How can you actively seek out “failure?”


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