Failure is inevitable.
A missed lift, a failed attempt, a time cap, a no rep, whatever you want to call them, they happen every single time you train. Many of us grew up playing sports, be it baseball, basketball, wrestling, tennis, skiing, so on and so forth. You’re taught how to play the game, you establish technique and style, but you aren’t always taught about the mental game you have to play. The one that allows the athlete to let go of errors quickly, to see failure as an opportunity, and to learn to become better. This hurts an athlete’s chances of success, and if they’re unable to learn it in their sport, typically they aren’t the few who move on to NCAA sports and beyond.
If you’re like myself, CrossFit wasn’t around when I was younger. I might have dated myself, but for most individuals, we’re all just coming across CrossFit in recent days. The Open, for example, has grown in less than 10 years to more than 500,000 participants worldwide and I promise the buck doesn’t stop here. So what’s different about CrossFit teaching failure as compared to other sports? Let’s take a deeper look.
Failures and Errors in CrossFit
Failure is part of the game and so are errors. Winston Churchill once said that “success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm” and CrossFit is no exception. Nobody is perfect. Every athlete experiences failure and often it can become a huge mental barrier to our training and way of life. In CrossFit, athletes who cannot cope with their failures will eventually fall victim to this limitation, decreasing performance, enhancing frustration and potentially killing their passion for the sport altogether.
Dwelling on Mistakes
Often in CrossFit, a failure is simply a mistake or a misstep. The hips weren’t to parallel, the MU didn’t have full extension, the arms weren’t completely locked out and the lift was missed. CrossFit has taught me this – dwelling and ruminating in my mistakes and my failures will not get my lift, my rep, nor my effort back. But it does make me stronger. It does help me realize that while that moment or that lift or that chance was missed, it doesn’t have to become a distraction for the rest of my training or my competition.
Being in the Moment
Using frustration to become a better crossfitter is key to peak performance every single time you step into the box or onto the competition floor. By recognizing failure as a learning tool, we refuse to give power to the cycle of negativity. By remaining to stand instead of giving into the knee-buckling urge to collapse to the floor after a Metcon, we won the workout, the workout did not win you. Sure, you got time capped. Or maybe you no-repped a few. Heck, maybe you scaled down the WOD for safety halfway through. But guess what? You didn’t fail. You used your mistake or your errors to grow from them to become a better athlete and individual.
Coach John Wooden on Failure
Okay, I know Coach Wooden was a basketball coach and that CrossFit came long after his time, but the man knew a thing or two about failure that can be directly attributed to a failure in CrossFit and other sports alike.
“A mistake is valuable if you do four things with it: recognize it, admit it, learn from it, forget it.”
Overcoming Failure in CrossFit
Here is a four-step easy process to overcome failure in the moment.
Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be. While many think that failure is the opposite of success, it’s actually part of success.
You may make mistakes, but you are not a failure until you don’t take responsibility for your action with the intention of improving it. In CrossFit, and life in general, everyone fails at something, and sometimes they fail hundreds of time. What you shouldn’t accept? Not trying.
Learn From It
Instead of focusing on the no-rep or the failed attempt, focus on the lesson learned. Do you need to drive your knees out more or extend your hips upward? Breathe in, breathe out, try again. Your journey in CrossFit and in life will not be marked by perfection, but rather the ability to constantly overcome adversities and failure. Failure and frustration lay the foundation for the understandings that will create the new level of living and performance you will eventually enjoy. You grow through what you go through.
Failure is inevitable and it’s also an opportunity to begin again more intelligently. You have to try in order to fail, then try again, then fail again and this time, fail better. Over and over again. Failure is like the little commas in life between magnificent moments and triumphs. Take the lesson, leave the failure.
"Those Who Dare To Fail Miserably Can Achieve Greatly"
CrossFit can teach people so much more about life than just failure. When you move out of your comfort zone, your only option is to grow. Whether it’s a lift you miss, a movement you performed wrong, a misunderstanding of the Metcon, missing class or showing up late, wearing your shorts inside out, maybe it’s important to realize that you’re trying and that trying in the first place will always be better than not trying at all.
CrossFit teaches people do not live in the same year 75 times and to call it a life. The very best in the sport didn’t become unstoppable because they didn’t have failures or doubts along the way, but rather, because they continued on despite them. How you do anything is how you do everything. Lastly, you don’t have to like failing. But, you can enjoy the opportunity to utilize failures and setbacks in order to propel you into success the next time around. Don’t get blocked by fears or consistent underachievement. Fall 7, get up 8.