Embrace Failure

February 01, 2017

Embrace Failure

During the 2016 summer Olympic Games in Brazil, like many previous games in the past, the event saw success stories, and it saw failures as well. In many of these stories, one so-called “failure” story that really stood out to me and got my attention, was that of Lithuanian weightlifter Aurimas Didzbalis.

(Picture from 15min.it)

During the Games, Didzbalis attempted to lift an incredible 491 pounds, or 223 KG, which was well over twice his weight class of 94kg. He missed the lift, but still got 3rd place. A medal in any event and especially for the Olympics is no joke and a great accomplishment. However, what really stood out was his reaction.


After dropping the weight to the ground in an unsuccessful lift, rather than looking dejected and cursing, Didzbalis instead did an epic backflip and he celebrated as if he had just completed the lift, rather than missing. He later said the reason he was so happy was because, despite  missing the lift, he had still secured a bronze medal. If he had lifted the 491 pounds he would have won silver, but he embraced not his failure but was proud of his “successful attempt.” Life is so full of failures/successful attempts, injuries, crappy moments, etc. A Proverb in the Bible says “Fail seven times and get back up seven times” or said another way:

Embrace failure, learn from it, then go on toward success. I've never competed in anything close to what Didzbalis did, but I've had my share of failures in fitness, especially when it comes to getting hurt. Seems when I make progress I get hurt again and a bit down on myself. But, I've learned to pick myself up and get fixed up and move on! From these experiences I've learned a few things:

Failing helps build character strength – Embracing failures helps to build character strength, which, in this day and age, is incredibly important (especially as it can seem this trait is becoming more and more difficulty to find.)  It doesn’t matter who you are, when you have made a success of something, you will almost certainly have made mistakes along the way!  How we overcome and embrace failure, not fear failing, are what help mold us into who we are today and who we will become tomorrow. There are some people however, who, when faced with obstacles, will simply throw in the towel and quit.  Yet there are others who won’t stop until they find a way of overcoming said obstacles. Basically, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to be an eventual winner one day, or a quitter today.  It’s easier to throw in the towel, it gives a security of a guaranteed outcome: failure.  Not giving up, however, is not only challenging but more risky.  It means that you’re working hard for the unknown, which makes success all the more sweeter!  Build your character strength and keep going, even after you accomplish your greatness, continue making the world a better place to live in.  

We learn from our mistakes – Another reason why we must embrace our failures is because we learn from them. Think of the word ‘fail’ as a ‘First Attempt In Learning’. When you do something wrong, it simply mean there is something new for your to learn.  Once you learn from that mistake,  you’ll know how to do that thing right and will no longer be “failing” by making that mistake.  Failing isn’t actually failing at all.  Instead, it’s  learning. Whether it’s a certain training protocol in the gym, or a technique performing on the day of a big event, if it doesn’t work for you, learn what you can do to make it work and knock that wall down already.  My wife loves to run, but she could never get past that 1.5 mile mark without her knees hurting.  By 3 miles, forget it. This went on for years before she figured out her problem.  Turns out, her technique of running was destroying her knees (over extending her stride).  Something as simple as changing her stride now allows her to run as far as she wants to go.  Sometimes, what seems impossible just needs small tweak, a little change to make it all okay again.  Continue learning, seek more knowledge to learn how to overcome and do better.

Easier said than done - It is so much easier to be talking about failure and how to overcome when one is not in the moment.  Yes, I speak from very many experiences.  School and studying usually came to me, I won’t say it was always easy, but I got through it.  However, keeping active and exercising was my weak point.  I love to play basketball with the guys, whether it’s my friends or just a nice group at the courts, it’s a great game.  For me, injury was my failure for a long time.  I easily get hurt and it knocks me down for a while, at one point, for years.  It’s the one thing that I couldn’t bounce back from.  Fail a test?  Okay, study harder and get it the next time.  Tear an ACL?  Well, there’s not enough ice to numb that set back.  It was hard for me to have to tell the guys, “No, I can’t… I’m hurt” for what seemed to be like forever.  However, over time, I learned that my pain in the butt knee or spazzed back, messed up shoulder or broken? :-) finger… the list can go on, didn’t have to be my downfall.  Only, it was an opportunity for me to learn how to make myself better.  I’ve learned so many exercises over the years to help me align my body better, so I can instead prevent injury.  I’ve learned what I could do to specifically strengthen my weak areas, so much so that I can now go out and run circles around the kids at the courts and yes, I can still beat them.  That’s why I appreciate Aurimas Didzbali’s backflip so much.  He was happy with his accomplishment.  Not in comparison to the #1 guy, but that he made 3rd and satisfied his own personal goals.  Finding happiness in being able to do what is good for you, that’s success.

Failure is not falling down but refusing to get back up - Chinese proverb

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.