“This I Believe: The Accomplishments of Failure”
I believe in failure. That’s right failure, gut-renching defeat. Not as a means of worship or goal; but the kind of failure when you put your whole self out there, when you literally lay it all on the line. I believe that success can only be measured by the way in which you handle defeat.
I played volleyball at Kalamazoo College. I sat the bench for two years awaiting my chance to play. When I was a junior I thought my time had come, all my hard work would pay off. At the beginning of the season we traveled to Connecticut for a tournament. After the first match, I was benched. I was so distraught, flooded with emotions of complete defeat. I had worked so hard and I feared I would never get the chance to be on the court. After the match, I couldn’t talk to my teammates. It would be selfish of me to agonize over my playing time, while we had won a close match. Instead I called my father. He asked how the tournament was going. I said we had just won a close match against the host team, a big victory. He asked if I got a chance to play. My face drenched in tears, I told him no. His only response was, “I know you supported your team in whatever role you were asked to take. I’m so very proud of you.”
Despite my failure, my father was proud of me. He didn’t blame the coaches, bad-mouth my teammates or criticize me; he simply loved me. I was never a failure to him.
Looking back, I realize that failure fuels me. It challenges me to demand more out of myself, and those around me. If I had never experienced defeat, I’d never have a drive for success, however you choose to define it.
I believe in losers. Those individuals that have risked it all, fallen short and gotten back up; they inspire me every day. I believe a person can never fully succeed without failing.
My father was right, I was the best teammate in every role I was given. I sat the bench for my entire collegiate career. But in the end my shortcomings taught me to appreciate all I am given, and to be the best team player possible. Failure fuels success, this I believe.
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