When was the last time you failed at something?  How did you feel as a result? What did you do after it? In some capacity we all fail every day. There’s no shame in this but the problem is we are letting our failures define us. This has to stop. We have to face these issues, deal with them head on, and learn from them. This week we’re going to view failure as growth and a stepping stone to a better version of ourselves.

The number one problem with failure is that we’ve learned to view it as our identity. Failure is an action, I failed at this. It is not our identity, I am a failure. Just because we lose a game it doesn’t make us a failure. It’s only failure if we do not learn from it. Too often parents view their child as a failure if they don’t win. Parents will even view themselves as failures if their child has a bad game or the team loses. Coaches will fall into the trap of solely basing success on wins and losses. This has to stop. We must realize and teach our youth to see failure as an action (that is correctable), rather than as an identity (who they are).

Last Sunday in the Super Bowl we all witnessed an incredible ending to the game. New England cornerback, Malcolm Butler, made an incredible goal-line interception to seal the win for the Patriots. Two plays prior to his interception, Butler was the defender who had a long (acrobatic and amazing) completion against him. It would have been easy for Butler to let the failure of that play (which many thought had just won the game for Seattle) affect the next plays. Butler had the right mindset, he failed on that play but was not a failure. His ability to move on to the next play helped him make the game’s biggest play. Failure is an action, not an identity.

When faced with losing a job, scholarship, or game we must remember that those moments don’t define us. What we do in response to those failures does. The best in any field have one trait in common, they’ve failed and overcome it. We must separate our self-image from the moments where we don’t succeed. In the words of Kelly Clarkson, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Here are four things to always remember in regards to failure:

  1. You are not who you were when you failed. That person is gone. You are constantly evolving and becoming better. If you learn from it, it is not failure.
  2. Think of the famous people who have failed over and over again only to succeed because they never gave up: Albert Einstein, Elvis Presley, Benjamin Franklin, Michael Jordan, Steve Jobs, and Abraham Lincoln just to name a few.
  3. There is no secret to success. If you want it, you must EARN it. There is no elevator to success, you MUST take the stairs.
  4. No matter what, you’re never a failure until you give up and start blaming others.

How do you view/handle failure? What has worked for you in helping others deal with and overcome failure? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

As always, thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!


Coach Elmendorf is available to speak with your team or group. Message him for details.