I believe that the most successful people in life are the ones who are not afraid to fail at something they believe in. For example, Benjamin Franklin once said,” I did not fail the test, I just found 100 ways of doing it wrong.” I believe more people should look at the situation from a new and optimistic perspective. There are not just two outcomes like right or wrong, but also several different opportunities for learning from past mistakes.
I recently went on a snowboarding trip with my ‘new’ blended family to Park City, Utah. Not to get conceited, but most things are not too difficult for me to handle, so I assumed that snowboarding would not be an exception. However, I was quite unpleasantly surprised when I went in the slightly condescending sounding class entitled Never Ever. I thought to myself, “Oh, excellent! I am going to do fabulous and be doing tricks and stunts by the end of this long weekend.” Boy, was I surprised when I found it difficult to complete the most straightforward drills of moving side to side with one foot strapped in on my snowboard! What looked to me as mundane task I could complete with ease turned out to be one of the most frustrating moments in my life.
The feeling I had after a horrible attempt at completing the most basic drill of moving from side to side on a snowboard felt similar to looking for a friend the first day of high school- frustrating and seemingly impossible. However, for me, failing is not an option and anything below perfect makes me feel too average. So one can understand how annoyed I was when the instructor came over to spend around ten minutes of the public lesson lecturing me on how ‘it is okay to fall’ and ‘yeah, it is a hard sport to learn’. When he was doing this, I could feel the group getting annoyed with me and questioning how someone could not just glide from left to right. I wanted to scream! I already knew all of this, but why could I not complete the simple task so the group could move on to more interesting things? Taking responsibility for my actions is a problem that I am working on, and because of my immaturities, I could not blame this on myself. I was convinced that ‘this was my first time snowboarding and I will do better tomorrow, so do not even be worried’. All I could think throughout the three-hour lesson was ‘when will this torture be over?’. When I got back to my cabin I was sore, tired, discouraged, annoyed, and all I wanted to do was practice so I wouldn’t be as horrible as I was today.
To my surprise, it only got worse! My stepbrother Jordan encouraged me to move up to his level. I accepted the challenge hoping he could give me a few pointers of what to do and what not to do. In spite of this, I did worse. At one point I almost walked out of the lesson because I was so aggravated. The teacher once again came over and spoke with me and actually said, “You know, snowboarding is not for everyone. You might want to give skiing a try”. I pondered this very appealing option to myself and thought about a few things. First how easy it would be to just give up from my failed attempt at snowboarding, second how much I might regret walking out on my progress (if you could call it progress), and third how I would be even more disappointed in myself. I weighed the pros and cons in my head as I usually do with decisions and of course picked option three.
Not to get all Zach Braff-esque, but I realized that if I picked the easy way out of this situation, I would never commit to one thing long enough to learn something. I proved my snowboarding instructor wrong when I perfectly executed my switch-foot spin. I glided gracefully down the mountain with a smug smile as big as the Cheshire Cat’s looking straight at the person who doubted me most. I wouldn’t call myself a successful person, parse, but I do think that I do things that turn out to be a success. Just like Benjamin Franklin, I didn’t fail at snowboarding, I just found several ways not to do it.