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  • Writer's pictureJustin McLennan

Understanding Failure

Over the past holiday weekend, I spent all three days at the Waipio soccer complex coaching our team in the President’s Day Cup. The entire weekend was filled with soccer, families, and food. You can’t ask for much more. As a coach , tournaments are a never ending learning experience. New pregame drills, coaching techniques, style of play, all the way down to learning and gaining a better understanding of your team and each individual player. Looking back on these past three days, the lesson that stuck out to me the most was learning the definition of “failure.” In no way am I suggesting our boys failed. The whole point of this blog is that failure and losing do not come hand-in-hand. Our boys may have lost the game, but not for one second did they ever fail.

I know our boys didn’t fail because I saw the look on their faces and witnessed their reactions throughout the tournament. These boys walked off the field having done the best they could.

“We may have lost the games. But we had no failures. You never fail if you know in your heart that you did the best of which you are capable. I did my best. That is all I could do” -John Wooden

And that is what we did. We did the best we were capable of doing, in each game we played.

Failure is not an easy thing for anyone to deal with, especially children. It’s one of those words that gets thrown around without really having an understanding of what being a “failure” is and who determines that. Just because you made a mistake, doesn’t mean you’ve failed or are a failure. You can make mistakes…in fact, that is a guarantee. You are going to make mistakes, but as long as you do the best you are capable of, you are never a failure. You are also never a failure because someone else says so. The only person who can determine if you have failed is yourself. That’s because the only person on this earth who knows if you put in 100% effort, is YOU.

Many of us have defined ourselves as failures without even considering how we determined that. A majority of the time it’s because we let others’ definitions of success and failure cloud our judgment…of ourselves. One of the hardest challenges we may face is defining who we are going to become. Who we become is determined by the boundaries we give ourselves. You are never a failure if you gave it your all. Through every mistake and every hardship there is a lesson to be learned. If you gave it your all and you still “lost” the game, you never lost anything. Instead, you found new techniques that you can improve upon and strengthen your game. Expect mistakes and losses, those are inevitable. But never expect failure, if you have given everything that you are capable of in that moment.

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