There is no failure. There is only feedback.
The only way you can fail at something is to make a mistake and to not learn from it. Otherwise we’re all on the same journey of making mistakes, learning, growing, knowing that each morsel of feedback is leading us closer to success the next time around.
These are messages I speak often and on Monday morning I did a keynote for a Sales Kickoff in Austin, TX.
Afterwards, someone approached me. He said that he was a former football player at Texas from 2003-2007.
I immediately responded, "Dude, did you play with Vince Young and win that National Championship?"
Anyone that follows college football knows what I'm talking about. Texas beat USC in the 2005 National Championship in what I still consider to be the greatest college football game ever played.
He said, "Yes, I did."
But that's not why he was coming to talk to me. He brought up a couple of plays from another game against Ohio State where he wasn't prepared, missed an assignment and let his team down. He said the loss still haunts him.
He asked me, "What can I do to get over it?"
My response was twofold...and it's probably not what you're expecting:
First, I told him, "I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you're never going to get over it. Ever."
It's true. All the people I've ever coached or spoken with - especially athletes - can remember vividly a loss or a mistake they made. I empathized with him in that many of our "mistakes" are not made on national television where they can be criticized by millions, but that's the commitment he made when he decided to play for Texas.
Second, and more importantly, I also told him, "You don't WANT to get over it."
He looked at me strangely when I said this...
"I bet you take extra steps to make sure you're prepared for everything now, don't you?"
"And I bet you go the extra mile with your team at Enverus (the company I spoke for) because you don't want to let them down?"
"Then why would you ever want to get over something that MADE you the Outperforming person you are today?"
He smiled and nodded, "Thanks man, I get what you're saying."
The truth about life is that we learn a lot more from our setbacks and struggles than we do from our wins and successes. And instead of wishing the tough times away because the result wasn't what we envisioned, we should appreciate the valuable feedback we received on the journey.