Failure Can Lead To Success!

07.22.12 | Posted in UnCommon Leadership

I’m a sports fan and have played a lot of sports in my time. I enjoy watching sports too, and this weekend I watched portions of two sporting events . The first was the truly epic battle at the Australian Open between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. The other event was the PGA tour event in Torrey Pines, Ca.  Brandt Snedeker won the tournament on the 2nd hole of a playoff with Kyle Stanley.

Both events produced spectacular failure for two people: Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open and Kyle Stanley at the PGA event. The tennis match is now in the record books as the longest Grand Slam match at almost 6 hours! Nadal had lost 6 straight times to Djokovic and looked as if he were going down again when he rallied and had a 4 games to 2 lead in the 5th and final set. He was serving to take a 5 to 2 lead which would have surely given him the match. An errant backhand led to a losing service game and before you knew, the match was over and Dkokovic had won the last set 7 games to 5. Despite being down 4 to 2, Dkokovic won 5 of the last 6 games!

The golf match was hard to watch as a fan. You never want to see someone win when another person completely crashes and burns.  Kyle Stanley had a 3 shot lead with 1 hole to play (never mind that it was a 5 shot lead with 6 to play!) On the last hole, an easy par 5, he dunked his 3rd shot in the lake, made a triple bogey which caused him to be tied, and then lost in the playoff to Brandt Snedeker on the 2nd hole. My heart was aching for Stanley as he could barely speak when the media tried to interview him after he lost. Thankfully, it was quick, but the pain on his face was incredible.

Few of us leaders ever fail with so many people watching. But, we all fail at crucial times in our careers. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t experienced both “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” Some people say that it reveals our character when we fail. I believe that it allows the character and values we already have to come out and either strengthen us or realize what we’re missing that could have strengthened us.

I could regale you with all types of quotations and references to famous people who have said so much about this topic, but I’m not. You can find those easily on your own. Think Thomas Edison!

I want to leave you with a simple message; failure produces success. How? It can be as simple as reframing the situation, doing a detailed review of what went right, what went wrong and lessons learned. Or, it may require a complete reinvention of who you are as person if something critical is missing. I’ve had epic failures in my life that required that reinvention. I’ve also had failures that just required a quick retooling of minor details. Here are the main points to consider:

  • Embrace failure as a springboard to the next success.
  • Reframe your thinking and spend the time to review the event in detail.
  • Ask who can help you on your journey…we don’t do this thing called life by ourselves!
  • Make sure you’re heading in the right direction. Maybe the failure was that the ladder was going up the wrong wall!
  • Do you have a friend, mentor, expert or coach who can help you see things that you can’t see?

Onward & Upward!


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