“What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?”

Perhaps one of the most misleading questions to ponder of all time.

How many of your idols or inspirations have ever taken anything worthwhile, that which made them great at their chosen endeavor, and NOT failed along the way?

I think a much better question would be, “What would you attempt, if you knew failing along the way wasn’t just okay, but likely necessary?”

I’ve been a competitive powerlifter. I’ve competed in numerous ultramarathons. I’ve shown up to group rides, rucks, and all sorts of athletic pursuits I was interested in, but where my interest level and skill level weren’t exactly equal.

I’ve bailed on more back squats, let go of numerous heavy deadlifts early, couldn’t lock out more than a couple bench presses, and missed more PR attempts than I can count.

I’ve cut short my fair share of long double digit training runs, and I’ve DNF’d a couple races that meant the world to me.

I’ve been dropped off the back of group rides like nobody’s business.

I’ve had to tuck my tail on long rucks and head back earlier than planned because my legs were shot or I was just totally gassed.

To think one could take on anything worth doing, and NOT fail, is simply bad logic and poor reasoning. And likely a result of being conditioned to think early success is the norm, when that’s not the case at all.

If every time one tried something, they immediately succeeded, where would the growth happen? How would their character or attitude be shaped at all? 

Those who I look up to most have failed, and failed in grand fashion. Most, more than once.

The difference between those who “make it” and those who don’t, is the willingness to fail. To try and come up short. But to keep showing up to try again. To not take failure as a door slamming shut in their face, but rather a reminder that more time practicing, more attempts at succeeding, those are what is needed. To reassess their gameplan, double check their knowledge and application of their knowledge, and to put it to better use, until success is achieved.

Every single ultramarathon I’ve completed, I’ve gotten more than a little emotional at the finish line. Most of them took me countless training runs, many failed runs I had to cut early, all sorts of adversity to get me in shape enough to simply toe the start line of each new race. Those failures and shortcomings only made succeeding that much sweeter.

Don’t let the highlight reel that is social media fool you, we ALL fail. It only takes that one next attempt to reach success, and if ever you decide to quit and quit for good, there’s a solid chance you were only one more attempt away from victory. Give yourself that chance.