Figure skaters ARE athletes. Strong, determined, hardworking and committed are just a beginning to describe athletes. But when we list off words to describe athletes and figure skaters, scientists are not one of the words that pops up. This is; however, what we need to be. Being wrong sets you on the right track to being right, and failure gives you the data point in order to succeed. Thomas Edison went through 9,999 different elements that didn’t work before finding the one that would make the lightbulb illuminate. He did not see all those attempts as failures, but instead as a data point and learning experience that got him one step closer to finding out what works.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ― Thomas A. Edison
Skaters need to become scientist in order to learn from our failures. No more, “I stink because I keep falling. I failed my test so I should give up.” It is all about perspective. Change your outlook into data points in order to learn more. You keep falling because _________ needs to changed. You have to retry your test because ___________ needs more work. The data is all in front of you, but its up to you how you want to proceed.
Failure is the Cost You Pay to be Right
None of this is to say that you should seek to make mistakes or that failing is fun. Obviously, you’ll try to do things the right way. And failing on something that is important to you is never fun. But failure will always be part of your growth for one simple reason… If you’re focused on building a new habit or learning a new skill or mastering a craft of any type, then you’re basically experimenting in one way or another. And if you run enough experiments, then sometimes you’re going to get a negative result. It happens to every scientist and it will happen to you and me as well. To paraphrase Seth Godin: Failure is simply a cost you have to pay on the way to being right. Treat failure like a scientist. Your failures are not you. Your successes are not you. They are simply data points that help guide the next experiment.
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” ― Thomas A. Edison