How True Athletes Deal With Failure by NCSA

Being “a safe place to fail” is a huge part of our team culture and environment at NCSA. It means we want our teammates to feel free to try new things, to share new ideas, and to introduce different practices when it comes to better serving our community of student-athletes and coaches without fear of backlash or scrutiny. It means that there is literally no such thing as a “dumb question,” and that if you are passionate about something – big or small – we want to hear about it.

But putting yourself out there can be scary.

Whether it’s at the workplace, like here at NCSA, in the classroom, or on the field, the fear of failure can not only consume us, but can actually stop us from achievement. It can keep us from improving, it can keep us from experiences. It can keep us from really living.

Failure is universally recognized as something negative: failure means you didn’t win, or didn’t try, or that you’re a loser. Right?

Wrong, wrong, and wrong.

It’s through failure that we really learn what it means to win. That we learn how to do our best, how to be resilient and how to get up.

Make a list of your major “wins” in life. It may be maintaining a 3.0 GPA. It may be your state soccer title. It may be learning to cook, play the guitar, drive a car.

Now reflect on those wins. How many wins came with hard work, practice, with getting knocked down and coming back for more? How many wins actually came from failure?

I’m guessing all of them.

In an awesome blog post from one of my favorite health sites, the above sentiment is not only echoed, but the author, a runner, really makes failure make sense. She gives us four things to think about:

  1. Failure isn’t a lonely endeavor: history is full of failures.
  2. Failing means you tried: if you failed at something, it means you gave it a shot.
  3. Failing is a learning opportunity: falling short often offers a teachable moment.
  4. Failing makes winning sweeter: the bitter taste of coming in last makes winning so, so darn special.

I challenge you to think about your current team culture and environment. Do those around you feel safe enough to try – to give it their all – knowing that if they miss the mark, it’s okay? Is your team a safe place to fail? If it’s not, start the season off right by shifting the winds and opening your arms to failure…because it’s truly the only way you’ll ever win.