You will strike out. You will get out. You will make errors. You will lose.
These are a part of baseball. Failure is a part of sports and a part of life. No failure means no challenge.
Failure is an opportunity to improve. Will you take the challenge?
Failure is an opportunity to learn. Will you repeat it?
Far too often, we have an entirely negative view of failure. We don’t see it as a natural course of competition and life. If you never experience it, you’re not taking risks. You’re avoiding growth.
Here are some things to talk about when it comes to the subject of failure…
1. What Did You Learn?
What did you learn from that loss? From that strikeout? From that play? It wasn’t merely “something bad that happened to us.” It was a lesson that we can’t ignore.
What did the pitcher do that led to your strikeout? Were you off balance? Were you on time? Were you expecting something different?
What did the umpire do? Is his zone higher than expected? Is it wide? Is it inconsistent?
What did that team do? Why did they win? Were they aggressive on the bases? Did they do something that caught you by surprise?
If you aren’t asking yourself these questions after failure, you’re missing a valuable opportunity.
2. What Will You Do Differently Next Time?
You learned from what happened. Now what? We want to avoid the same result. We’ll be prepared for it next time. We’ll adjust.
If the pitcher caught you with an offspeed pitch, you’ll be ready for it next time.
If the umpire has a wide zone, you’ll expand your zone with two strikes next time.
If the team ran trick plays, you’ll be ready for it and practice ways to defend it next time.
If we don’t do anything different, we can’t expect different results. The same failure will repeat.
3. Your Experience Will Help You Next Time
Failure is experience. Experience is what leads to growth. Each failure gives you a little story that you learned from in the back of your mind. You are prepared for everything because you’ve been through it all.
If you’ve rarely failed, there are more situations that you won’t be prepared for.
Experience isn’t about having the most success. Experience is about being through the most situations you can learn from to get better.
4. Failure Makes You Hungrier
Failure hurts. We don’t like striking out, making errors, or losing. But that hurt is motivation.
If you’ve only succeeded, you take that success for granted.
When you’ve been through a painful loss or other failure, it’s a feeling you don’t want to experience again.
You become hungrier and more motivated.
5. Failure Highlights Weaknesses
Your team is 100-0. You’ve never lost. Every player is hitting 1.000. None of your players has made a mistake.
What do you need to work on? I have no idea.
That undefeated team isn’t perfect, but you don’t notice because they haven’t lost. Those hitters can improve, but no one sees it because they’ve yet to be retired.
Failure brings focus to weaknesses. This is a good thing.
Thanks to failure, we know that we aren’t perfect. We know specifically what it is we need to work on. We can’t avoid it.
6. Get Pushed to Your Limits
Welcome challenges. You need to find your limits.
Play the team that seems unbeatable and see how you do.
Face the pitcher who seems unhittable and give him all that you have.
When you get pushed to your limits, you find out what you are truly capable of. You also uncover weaknesses you may not have otherwise noticed.
Pushing yourself to your limits is how you uncover your optimal performance.
7. Unchallenged Success is Unproductive
When everything’s easy, it’s a mirage. You think you’re better than you are. You appear to have no weakness.
Welcome challenges and the potential failure it brings.
If you’re unchallenged, don’t change your firey approach. Continue to push yourself to be better. Uncover weaknesses and things you could have done better even when the result was positive.
8. Failure Can Be Misleading, Too
Be careful. Not every failure highlights a weakness.
Sometimes you do everything right and get out. You have a good approach, a good swing, hit the ball hard and the ball finds a glove. It doesn’t mean you need to change something.
Sometimes you do everything right on a play and you can’t retire the batter. You were well-positioned, attack the ball, make a strong throw, and he beats it out. It doesn’t mean you need to change something.
Sometimes you make a great pitch and the batter hits a home run. Tip your cap.
Things happen. Know how to differentiate failure when you did everything right from failure when you could have done something differently. Otherwise, you’ll tweak things that don’t need to be tweaked.
9. Embrace the Role of Failure in Progress
Don’t feel sorry for yourself when you fail. Embrace the experience as an opportunity to learn.
Don’t fall into depression after a difficult loss. Embrace what was learned from it and how it can make you better next time.
Every failure is a brick in the wall towards progress as long as you handle it productively. Keep building.
How does your team deal with failure? What are your experiences?
Let me know in the comments below!