Winning is great! Over the last few weeks, Vol Nation has come alive in support of our Men’s Basketball program as they are ranked #1 for the first time in a while. It is great to be at the top of the heap winning, celebrating and excelling, but what happens when you are not? Have you ever failed at something? Maybe even failed at something so badly you wondered how things will ever be right again? Most of us don’t have to think too hard to find an example of a time we failed. I believe the older you become, and maybe even the more successful you become, the greater the chances that you will also find yourself racking up your fair share of life bloopers that don’t make the highlight reel.
Some failures are small but happen over and over creating a well worn path of regret. Others loom large and happen in an instant that seems to change everything. Some are agonizingly private and others are painfully public. Each can bring its own challenges. For many of us, failure tries to steal time looping through our minds, creating a host of negative thoughts. What is it that we shoulda, woulda, coulda done differently to avoid this situation altogether. If only we had… fill in the blank.
But the truth is….. we all fail. Yes, all of us. So knowing that each of us will stand in that place is not the question. The real challenge is how do we respond when we are in the moments of greatest defeat? Here are a few things to think about when life serves you a hearty portion of foul tasting failure.
- Remember while you may have failed, your story is not over. You are not a failure. You do not have to be defined by the circumstance you are in. If you mess up…. Make the next, best, right decision. Don’t dig a deeper hole to hide or wallow in, where blame or fear rob you of clear thinking. Own the mistakes, and look for a path forward. Tomorrow is a brand new day. What you decide to do with it, well that is your choice. Choose well.
- Ask for forgiveness and seek grace from others. Not everyone is willing to give it. Come from a humble place and ask for it. It is always better to ask than to be trapped by the assuming insecurity forgiveness isn’t an option. I am a BIG believer in giving people a little extra grace when they fail. Expect there will be some consequences and some accountability, but it is much easier to walk through it with a humble heart and a clearer conscience. Let go of failures’ weights you carry around by forgiving yourself too.
- Surround yourself with people who can walk with you through the tough times. Think about who is in your inner circle. I would suggest these people should know the real you. Make sure you have people around you who expect a lot and challenge you to grow, but make sure you have people in your life to build you up when you need encouragement. We all need supporters. Who we connect with, can have a powerful impact on our way of thinking and the life that we lead. Think about the role you play in the lives of others. Who might need your support and encouragement? Are you connected to someone heading on a collision course with bad decisions? Do you have the power to help? Would you want someone to step in and redirect you if the situation was reversed?
- Find the lesson in the circumstances. We all want to avoid failure, but sometimes it is life’s best teacher. That is, if you are willing to lean in, to dig a little, to get a little uncomfortable and ask yourself some of the hard questions. What is the takeaway from this circumstance? Pause the heavy emotions and look deeper into the whys, and hows. What is one thing that makes you better, stronger, more because you have weathered the storm? Once you find it… use it. It is gold, better than the best lecture or the greatest theories. It has the power to change your future in powerful ways. The only thing worse than failing is failing for the same reason….again.
- Take action. Don’t prison yourself in walls of guilt, shame and regret. Break through your own limited beliefs about yourself. Heal from the hurt. Believe in yourself and your ability to make things happen. You mind is the key to unlock your greatest potential. Look for a new opportunity to try again and act with all that you have learned. Give yourself some permission to fail. You are not nor will you ever be perfect. If you fail again, keep getting up. Keep focused on what is most important to you and keep trying to do good things. Believing you have the power to change yourself, to alter your circumstances and to influence the world around you is an amazing gift.
Winning is great. Some days, we fail. Tough situations build strong people. Own it, learn from it, and do better.