The Secret to Failing Well
Our children finished their Little League Baseball (LL) experience long ago. My LL experience goes back to the mid ’60’s but I still remember.
My first at-bat ever, I hit a home run. That solidified my role as clean-up batter. My last at bat I struck out. All these years later, I still remember those three swings.
I forget who was on third base but my friend Carl was on second. It was the last out of the last inning of the play offs and we were behind by one run. A decent hit would win the game. I smiled and nodded to my friend on second. We were excited to win.
I can still hear the baseball whistling past me and popping in the catcher’s glove, a fastball down the center of the plate. I swung late, strike one – no worries.
Two fastballs down the middle later and our season ended. I swung three times and missed three times. It still stings.
You succeed till you fail.
If you keep pushing forward, you’ll eventually fail. Continue reaching higher, you’ll eventually fall short. If failure isn’t meaningful your efforts don’t matter.
Do things where failure matters and when you fail think, next time. But, there’s more.
Use your failures as motivation to understand, appreciate, and lift others. People around you feel the sting of falling short. Perhaps they need a kick in the pants. If they failed due to neglect, go ahead.
On the other hand, there’s a world of beat down out there. Be unique by being an encourager. You encourage others when you believe in them. One of the sweetest expressions I hear from emerging leaders is, “Thank you for trusting me.” Belief expressed by you encourages others to rise above their personal failure-stories.
Who can you believe in today?
How can leaders express their belief in others?
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I love your “secret”. Use your failures as motivation to understand, appreciate, and lift others. Your blog lifts me. I’m always looking for people that focus on the positive. Thank you!
Hi Dan very interesting post considering that failure is such an inherent part of my world. You pose the question who do I believe in today? Well the list is lengthy but to hit the high points, let’s start off by saying that to believe in others you must first believe in yourself. You cannot give to others something you have not given yourself first. You must own it first to be able to gift it. I believe in all of my staff, my colleagues, my friends, my family and some others that I have yet to meet.
There are many ways to express belief in others but physical, spiritual, and emotional presence is key. Encourage when they fail, applaud when they try and celebrate when they succeed. It is important to have presence in all three dimensions. Motivation is my way of providing a kick in the pants as you put it. Also persuasion is very helpful and is very different from manipulation. With true persuasion both parties reach a mutually satisfying endpoint whereas manipulation may win the moment but it will always lose the day when eventually discovered. We need to understand that if failure is not part of our lives then we are mediocre. It is only by failing that we know we pushed the envelope, reached too high, or expected too much. Failure is an integral part of success and excellence in the things we do. By supporting failure we persuade others to be better. The only true failure is the one we don’t see the lesson with. We rejoice when we win and we should always be seen getting up and never lying down. Medicine is a science of probability and as such we are no strangers to failure. Cheers, 🙂
‘being able to gift it’ is a great way to think about it Al. Without any expectation of return gives belief/faith so much energy. There are times where there is an expectation of return, not sure it is such a ‘gift’ then, rather implied obligation or manipulation as you noted. Moving toward that gifting mindset is a deeper connection.
I feel failing well is the indicator of putting effort. It means you have made effort to get success but you could not get it. It provides a great learning about failures. It shows how many ways you can fail. It also provides learning about what does not work. I think people also fail poorly. It clearly indicates the lack of or absence of effort. We should understand that effort is in our hand, result it not. So, doing our part well and then failing is failing well. On the other hand, not doing our part and expecting success is sure failure and that is called failing poorly.
I believe in today those who believe in themselves. I believe in those, who challenge their beliefs from time to time. I also believe in those, who are good listener. People can express their belief in others by being first and expecting second. First, people should be trustworthy and reliable. They should be person of integrity. This provides base to make others believe you. Person with dual or fake identity cannot be trustworthy for long. Similarly people who try to become somebody else can not be trustworthy.
You succeed till you fail and you fail until you succeed…if you keep on trying. Maybe the price of admission of life. Even in the midst of our failing we are experiencing, we are potentially having options to move forward…if we listen/see/feel/know it….kinda like climbing up an old volcanic mountain…you climb up in the small skree-strewn rocks, one step up, 2/3rds of a step slide back…til you summit and the summit is soo sweet!
Dan, felt your pain with strike three, you painted an all too real image, well done Sir! Thank you sir may I have another!? 😉
One of the greatest honors we may receive (gift Al?) is when someone brings their failures to us…that they seek us out truly for support (not the rescue/victim/perpetrator triangle), that they are seeking to improve and know they can’t do it alone. High vulnerability and implicit trust. Our response, in the midst of their failure/vulnerability, must be so unconditionally accepting and overflowing with tact, touch and sensitivity.
Again the failure/success cycle reminds me of the physics prof, Dr. Tae and his video about learning and new paradigm for schools…It is about a 27 minute video, loads of excellent messages within…
Worth viewing and seeing the next gen advocating this way certainly brings hope.
I agree Doc. It is crucial to create the right environment when approached for help after failure. time of failure is not the moment to create trust that has to be implicit as you suggest. What is true however is the enhancement of the trust that occurs if the failure event is successfully navigated. Having shown your own vulnerability in the past will help set the stage for candor and acceptance. The “safe community” has to exist before folks will feel comfortable approaching you for help. Again being supportive of failure will make people better and more inclined to accept your help. Thanks for the video link Doc, will check it out. BTW “skree-strewn”? think I figured it out with the context and mental image but it had been a while since you made me run to the dictionary! 🙂
Hey Doc, just saw the video. I believe. Dr. Tae speaks the truth. My first semester at a huge university we did Dr. Tae one better. My history 101 class was in an amphitheater and my teacher was on a large screen, not sure whether it was live or taped. I dropped out a week later. Unfortunately what Dr. Tae is postulating is very rare. Most of us have done exactly what he recommends: work our A…. of until we get it right. I particularly liked his distributive teaching method which dovetails nicely with the idea on everyone being smart just smart at something different and how everyone has some knowledge to share. Thanks for sharing.
LOVE LOVE LOVE this! Very timely (again. Are you stalking me or something? ;-)) I have recently discovered in my roles as Chairman of a ladies barbershop chorus and president of a speakers’ club that I am a very good encourager. Just this weekend I was able to really pick up my chorus after we didn’t do as well as we’d hoped in national competitions. Members told me they liked what I’d said to them after the results came out.
My biggest problem is I can’t seem to believe my own words. Others feel uplifted but when people try to uplift me I just feel the words are empty. What can I do about that? Is it a matter of just hearing it often enough from lots of different people? Is it just conciously choosing to suspend disbelief? Why is it that I can believe sincerely and wholeheartedly in others but not myself? Anyone else have a similar experience?