A 3 Pointer in Failure Readiness

Leadership, Life, Organization, TEDTalks

I don’t watch a lot of sports, nor do I play very many, but I am a very competitive person in just about everything.  Everyone knows that competitive people dislike losing.  I was never much of a basketball player, but I did play in middle school and a little in high school.  I remember playing in middle school and one particular game stood out more than the rest.  We were losing by 6 and we had .57 seconds on the clock before halftime.  Half a second!  It was our ball under our own basket.  The coach called a stack play and knowing we only had a split second, I refused to run the play.  There wasn’t time for it.  I took a risk.  As soon as the ball was in play a shot had to be made, if a shot could be taken.  I actually remember setting up for the play and then breaking to run to the 3-point line around the opposite side.  The person throwing the ball was telling me to get back, but I said, ”We don’t have time for a play, throw me the ball.”  I was wide open!  He threw me the ball and I shot the 3 pointer.  I made it, but we were still losing. 

If there is one thing that we dislike the most it would be failing.  We are anti-failure! We don’t want it to happen!  It doesn’t feel good and it can cost us time, money and resources. Though it doesn’t feel good, it’s bound to happen at some point.  We all experience failure.

Even though I made that shot, it wasn’t enough to tie or take the lead. What I felt was failure.  I remember sitting in the locker room and I was very upset that we were losing.  We weren’t winning and to come back seemed like it would need a miracle.  I was not happy and I began to think losing was inevitable.  As I look back, I now know that there is a way to fail the right way.  I may not have realized the in-depth look at failing, but I do now. Here are a few lessons I extracted from this memory that has helped me be ready for failure. 

Mindset; Be prepared – Burn it in your mind that failing is okay.  If you haven’t heard the TedTalk by Ret Gen Stanley McCrystal – Listen, Learn and then Lead, he makes the comment, “Leaders can let you fail and yet not let you be a failure.”  When you fail, it doesn’t make you a failure.  It’s what you do next that defines your success.  Have the right mindset that failing is okay and that it is a possibility.  Don’t focus on failing, but be ready to try again.  It’s not being negative, it’s being prepared for whatever may come.  I believe when you’re ready for anything, even failing, that you’re getting a head of the game.  Don’t be fooled by failing.  It’s not the end, it’s just the beginning of another try.

Learn; Take away something new – There is learning to do in failing.  Always see what there is to learn from failing.  Remember that failing is sort of like constructive criticism.  It’s a chance to reevaluate what you’re doing so that you can try again.  Learn what worked, what didn’t work and why it failed in the first place. Learn something out of failing!

It was halftime now and it was now the coach’s opportunity to teach us what we were possibly doing wrong.  We evaluated what we were doing, we created an improved plan to fix it and then we took the 2nd half as the time to execute it.  We created that execution plan by learning from what we did the first half. We learned!

Attitude; Don’t be negative – Attitude changes everything.  If you have a bad attitude, it brings you down and the team down.  No one likes a downer.  Be positive that you will succeed.  Failing at something is a road bump.  You can still keep going as long as you remain positive and dedicated.  Keep your spirits up.  Having a good attitude can be contagious.  It’s good to pass that along. Sir Winston said, “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”  Do not let failure control your emotions and certainly don’t let failure define who you are. Of course during any halftime, you’re not there to just create a new game plan, but you’re there to get re-motivated.  A time to push away the negatives and focus on the positives.  An attitude adjustment!

The half-time was a time to regain our composure and focus on turning the score around.  We went back out there and we played hard.  It was a close game and at the end, we ended up winning by 3 points.  I always look back at that game and think that if I had not made that shot would we have won? Remember the game is only over when you give up.

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