Reflection Corner – On Failure

On failure

Why are we scared to fail?  Why do we build up all sorts of mechanisms for defence against it, including never trying to start in the first place?  What if we embrace failure?


Failing to start is starting to fail

Imagine if you’d never tried to walk as a one year old because you were worried you would fall over.  Every time you did try to walk and you fell, your neuro-muscular system learned something new and adapted for next time.  Suddenly you were toddling.  

As one year olds, there are no layers of social conditioning yet stopping us from trying something new, something we couldn’t do but see others doing.  Nothing has changed.  Your neuromuscular system can still adapt.  In fact even into very late old age your neuromuscular system can decondition very quickly – and therefore be conditioned, too.  Look at all the amazing octogenarian (& older) racers:

86-year old iron nun!

If you’ve been inspired to start a health journey or some serious training but are worried you might not succeed, welcome.  You might fail, but that’s OK, you can have fun and even learn something by trying.  “We learn from our mistakes” is not a hackneyed cliche for nothing – it’s true!


The other reason you need some socking great failure in your life is building resilience.  If you’ve never failed, you’ve never had to “pick yourself up, dust yourself off & start all over again”

If you’ve learned how to get back on the horse after a bruising blow, you can translate that experience across your life.  I always remember my childhood best friend was extremely clumsy – but every time she fell over or bumped her head, which was frequently, she found it hilarious in a banana skin slip way, which was profoundly infectious and helpful.  If you can laugh at life’s banana skins you’ve got resilience in spades.


So when you’re training, or dieting or just working on getting your 10,000 steps a day if you fail to hit a target, literally fall over, have an accidental boozy night out and a crisp binge or leave the pedometer behind, don’t cry into your soup.  It’s happened, laugh at yourself, laugh at what you did when you cocked up massively – encourage others to laugh with you and then get out there ready to fail again.

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A tiny hobbit dedicated to saving the world with a decent second breakfast. Also, available to make you feel good in triathlon when you overtake her.......

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