Sweaty, exhausted and down-right emotionally drained after a night of hard training on the mats, my teammates and I huddled around our coach who had called a meeting in the cramped back coat room. With a number of high profile grappling tournaments less than a month away, I expected him to lecture us on getting in shape, working on our techniques or any of the usual speeches that I’ve become accustomed to hearing from the world class Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt.
Don't fear it!
But on this evening, the topic of the conversation was anything but ordinary as our coach gave us an odd piece of advice: embrace failure.
Typically, especially in a competitive setting, failure is the worst possible outcome as an athlete always wants to win. The fear of losing in front of hundreds, possibly thousands, of people is so great that some competitors freeze. Rather than staying true to themselves, they let this fear dictate their actions.
Now this fear doesn’t always result in a loss, but on a deeper level, it completely hinders one’s personal growth. As a society, we’ve become so afraid of failure that we openly mock those who do so, often in the form of viral “fail” memes and Youtube videos.
This trend truly perplexed my coach who believes that the more one tries to avoid failure, the less he or she explores outside of their comfort zone which, in turn, prevents any deeper level of learning and understanding.
Failure is not this horrid monster that forces one to hang their head in shame. Instead, it is a very powerful learning tool that can lead to great personal growth. Rather than living like a drone in step with the rest of society, one should reflect on these types of experiences and learn from them.
One Step at a Time
As the conversation continued, our coach told us about setting goals for ourselves and taking things one step at a time. Each and every one of us, in his eyes, had taken the biggest step already: simply walking in the door to train. This seemingly benign step already placed us above the throngs of people who can’t even get off their living room couch as their fear of failing prevents them from pursuing their dreams.
In terms of game (and virtually any aspect of life), taking the first step isn’t reading an e-book or watching PUA videos, it’s making that first move, that first approach. The fear of getting blown out and rejected is so great that millions of men would rather sit at home and play World of Warcraft than simply say hello to a woman. If you have the balls to just smile and introduce yourself, your game is already astronomically better than most men.
After that initial first step is where the deeper learning begins. Whether it is a competition or picking up a girl at a bar, continuing to challenge yourself and push through your comfort zone is of the utmost importance to take yourself to that next level.
Whether you succeed or fail, it doesn’t matter as long as you learn from the experience and try to improve your skillset. The mere fact that you tried speaks volumes. Once you take that step outside of your comfort zone then you can seek out resources to improve your game.
At the end of the day, failure truly only affects you and nobody else. So check your ego at the door, forget what others may think and just try. What do you really have to lose?