by Jake Thompson

A Winner's Relationship with Failure

Winners have a different relationship with failure than most people...
A Winner's Relationship with Failure

When’s the last time you failed at a workout?

I’m not saying you got tired or didn’t finish in the time you thought you could. That happens during workouts.

I’m talking about getting under a barbell, going for a personal best, and flat out failing. Barbell crashes to the ground (sometimes you with it!) after being able to get out of the hole at the bottom of a squat.

The feeling of swinging and pulling with all of your might up to that pull-up bar and still not being able to clear your chin.

That type of feeling of failure at a lift or fitness movement.

Despite my disappointment in the moment, I have learned to love those moments. Here’s why:

Lifting weights is the perfect teacher to help you change your relationship with failure.

Your goal is to follow a set program, build strength every day/week, and then at the end of the 6-8 week cycle, go for a max lift.

You keep putting yourself under heavier and heavier weight until eventually, you can’t lift that weight. It’s beyond your current baseline.

It doesn’t mean you’re a failure.

It’s not a signal to other people that you suck.

It’s simply the marker of where your current limit is – and where you need to train to surpass.

During your training cycle, you’re not concerned about failing because you’re focused on that day’s programmed work and just getting stronger.

When you’re going for a max lift, you’re not worried about failing at a heavier weight because you know you’ve done the work and you want to see how much more capacity you’ve built.

And when you eventually hit that failure point, you don’t talk negatively to yourself, dwell on the failed lift, etc… you simply make yourself a note of where you need to surpass the next time.

We often forget that life works the same way.

We set goals, create a plan to achieve it, and then get to work every single day.

Some days the work is easy and some days it isn’t, but just like lifting the weights, we commit to doing it consistently.

We reach some goals, while others we fall short of. Just like lifting heavier weights for the first time, failing in the pursuit of something new doesn’t make us a failure. It simply means we haven’t raised our baseline enough to reach it.

  • Sometimes we need a new daily plan.
  • Sometimes we simply need more time.
  • Sometimes we need to change our focus.

None of these things are bad.

I talk to too many people who are terrified of failing at their goals – but not in their workouts. It’s the same thing!

You don’t worry about failing at your lift because you know you’re doing the work, getting stronger, and if you don’t hit that PR today, you will in the future by continually doing the work.

The same applies to your life goals.

  • Sometimes you need to replace current habits with more productive ones.
  • Sometimes you need a coach to help you level up your gameplan.
  • Sometimes you need to change your focus to what you still can do.

We should each be challenged to change how we view failure.

It’s not a roadblock. We aren’t a failure for missing it.

It’s simply a missed lift on the way to hitting our next PR.

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