Archive for July, 2009

Forget Success – Embrace FAILURE!

July 12th, 2009

The video below just might be the most inspiring, fear-inducing, and truthful five minutes you’ll experience this year. It’s not me. I get scared just watching the video. That’s one of the things I love most about it. Plus, it’s just REALLY COOL!

Since I was a young pre-teen I’ve trained in the martial arts and for as long as I can remember I’ve always been the first to volunteer when it came time to spar, fight, or be the guy that the instructor uses to demonstrate a new technique.

When a visiting black belt comes to the school where I train Jiu-jitsu I’m always willing to roll with him no matter his size or experience. One day someone in class asked me “Aren’t you scared?”


“Do you really think you can take that guy?” he then asked.

“I hope not” I replied, “because every time I lose I learn at least two things. I not only learn a new technique that can be used to win, but I learn about a weakness in my own defense”.

Too often we strive so hard for success that we develop a fear and loathing of failure, when in fact, failure is one of the most important secrets to success!

For the past three months I’ve been studying a video of Danny MacAskill that many of you might have seen already on YouTube. If not, here’s a link to this incredible video.

Danny MacAskill – Inspired Bicycles

When we watch sporting events and we see the thrill of victory.

But we almost never get to see all the pain, and sweat, and frustration, and perserverence, and failure that it takes to get to game day. We never get to see it because it is tedious, and scary, and intimidating, and emotionally draining. We never get to see it because it is very time consuming and boring and repetitive. And because victory often starts before 5 AM when many of us are still asleep.

Watch this video and bookmark it. Study the first 1:20 because you get a glimpse of what Danny puts in to become the talent than he has. You still can’t see all the broken bones, all the stitches, all the scraped knees and elbows. You only get to see a few of the bicycles he’s destroyed in his quest for excellence.

Pause the video at 3:05 and notice the path that he’s worn up the side of that huge oak tree. How many hours do you think you have to spend rolling a soft rubber tire to wear down a groove in the side of an oak tree? How many broken bones, bent wheels, and blows to the chin between the time he thought up this particular stunt and the time it was videoed?

We’ll probably never know. All we know is the result of his efforts and they take less than 4 seconds from the time he approaches the tree. But what an amazing four seconds.

I don’t aspire to become a great bicyclist, or even a world-class martial artist. But in the things that are important to me I have allowed myself permission to fail. I have allowed myself permission to get out, scrape my knees, and fall down in front of people I care about. For the things that are important to me I have given myself permission to expose myself to ridicule. I have accepted that failure is almost surely part of the path, but it is not, and will not be my final destination.

What are you going to do today that scares you? Whatever it is, I give you permission to fail while trying as long as you get up and try again after you fall.

Embracing Fear, Getting Things Done, productivity, Success