Success is Failure

by Zack Swann

My name is Zack Swann, I come from a long line of military in my family; my dad, both brothers, both grandfathers, and two uncles all have served. I decided to go a different route and get my bachelors in Exercise Science. My article touches on how success is defined by failure. 

As a football player, I can tell you a lot about success versus failure. I know what it is like to lose, and I know what it is like to win. There was this one specific time during weight training that really made the outlook of failure clear. I had to set a personal best to achieve by the end of the week, and I remember being scared of failing. However, by the end of the week, I saw failure for what it really is, and when it came time to attempt my personal best, I was calm because I knew it was okay if I failed. 

Optimally, the goal of failure is learning how to succeed. I have always viewed true failure as making the same mistake/bad decision repeatedly and not taking in anything from the experience. From my participation in sports, and from what my coaches taught me, I would define success as what we learn from our failures because with failure comes motivation. Failure can teach us patience, and our failures can define us.

  We hate failure because it is “bad,” but if you look at it differently, it can be motivation. When we fail, we can either give up or take motivation from that failure and learn how to succeed. Whenever we lost a game in football, we would be at the school the next morning watching film, learning from our mistakes, and then going to work out. “What motivates you to be up at 6 o’clock in the morning after a game?” you may ask. That would be failure. Failure has the potential to motivate, to make ourselves the best we can be. When you fail, it shows you what not to do. One of my coaches used to always tell me, “Make your mistakes now in practice, rather than in the game.” He was saying that it is okay to fail, make mistakes, but learn from them and use them to make ourselves better. We wouldn’t know success if it was not for failure.

Through failure, we can find patience. Change doesn’t happen overnight. We all go through hard times, but we can either be patient and let them form us, or we could let them damage us in the long run. I’ve had my hard times, and I have gone both routes. Patience, in my opinion, is the better one. By being patient, I learned to use my failures as a learning experience to make myself a better person and not as a confidence killer. Football is not the only area of life where this applies. If you keep trying to find a job and fail, you can eventually succeed, but through patience and persistence. 

When you think about defining yourself by your failures, you probably think, “Oh, I’ve failed so much. I’m a disappointment.” It doesn’t have to be like that; you can define yourself on how you deal with those failures. If you take failure and turn it into a positive, then that defines you. If you can take failure and learn from it, that defines you. Even if you take a failure as a hint to quit, that still defines you. For instance, If I were to be defined as coachable, I would have to be able to own up to my mistake/failure and learn from it. If we were to let the number of times we fail define us, then everyone would be failures.  Everyone fails! It is just how we adapt to failure that really shows who we are. 

There are going to be people that think differently. That’s okay. Hopefully, after they read my opinion and see how it has affected me, they will think the same. There’s a connection between failure and success. As long as failure is not seen as a horrid thing by society and viewed as an opportunity, it will be a much better world. These two are a team; as long as we have failed, we will know when we have succeeded.