Go Forth and FAIL
by Coach Lance Brown
The article is intended to be part 1 of a series on failure, and developing an effective relationship with it, and learn how to make it work in our favor. About 10 years ago as of writing this, I was applying to the New England Culinary Institute. It’s a small, yet prestigious school in Bristol, VT that had caught and held my attention for years. I was accepted back in 2009, but I never ended up going, and don’t regret my decision. But in the process of reading, learning and practicing, one of the skill sets I really wanted to get down was sharpen my chef knives. It almost held a mystique to it. Every cook or chef knows the importance of maintaining their equipment, but most never learn to do it, and instead just ship their knives off once a month to get them sharpened. But I wanted to learn. And learn I did.
Believe it or not there’s a whole subculture of people who are finatics when it comes to this. I bought a huge collection of stones, and I spent a shameful amount of money on them and my chef knife collection. It took some time to get the basic techniques down, but once I got it, it was a process of learning to refine things more and more. In said process I met my friend Ken, who told me something that to this day I’ve applied to everything I’ve ever taken on.
Ken was about twice my age, if not older, been in the game a long time, and spend most of his life wearing many different hats. He’s a true renaissance man, and always seemed to have just the right thing to say at the right moment.
In this particular case I was asking for some help on very specific issue, and in the process mentioned how there was so much to learn and how I was frustrated that I had to screw everything up so much before I could ever get something right (pretty much a recurring theme in my life, but that’s a whole other article).
And then he asked me this:
“How do you know you’re getting good at something?”
Classic me, did what I always do and I over thought things, and went on and on trying to answer the question while he just sat there, looking half amused by attempt. But it was much simpler.
“You know you’re getting better at something when you start running out of mistakes to make.”
He then went on to say that even then you’ll continue to make more mistakes, but they’ll just be more refined. And it never ends as long as you still care. I took this and applied it to everything. It helped me find the bright spots in everything I did and gave me permission to learn. You see, every failed attempt is just a check in the boxes. I don’t know about you, but I love making lists and checking things off. And that’s what failure is. It’s just a bunch of checks in the box. So fail often, and get excited about, and check the shit off. The more you fail the sooner you can check it off the list. Embrace it, realize it’s your friend, not your enemy, and work with it, not against it.
A few years later I fell in love with skydiving and eventually BASE. Let’s look at the numbers here. From exit to open, in the skydiving world, you have an average of about one minute of free fall before you open. That’s only 1 minute of practice. That’s it. And in BASE it can be around 0:06. It takes about 10,000 HOURS of dedicated practice to master something. So needless to say, every jump was a drop in the bucket. And with such a short amount of time to practice something, you have to find the positives in what you just did, and you have to learn to love failure as much as you do success, because it IS success.
As soon as I would open I’d take a tally of what I just did right and what I learned then focus on the fact that I just accomplished something.
Fast forward to today and I still apply that to all areas of my life, and the gym is no exception. When doing the snatch, how much time do you have to practice each rep? A fraction of a second? Give yourself permission to learn so you can check things off the list ASAP. So fail often, fail confidently and start checking things off.
Your Action Steps;
1 – For the month of June and July and try to apply this mindset to every workout and one other are in your life, and in August we’ll come back to this, see how you’re doing then continue to dive deeper into the importance of failure.
2 – Book a free goal setting session with me. Being that I am the newest coach here, I’d love to be able to meet more of you and share a few moments seeing how I can help you! Or we could just go get coffee..Email me at [email protected] and I will gladly set up a time to connect!