Improving through “Failure”

I became a better sailor today…. by “failing”

My cousin has a Hobie 14 catamaran that we have sailed on a small Missouri lake (Lake Tapawingo) for the past two years… probably 20+ times total.

We also sailed a Hobie 14 on Potrero Bay, in the Pacific Ocean of the shores of Costa Rica.  Here is a brief clip of that sail…

 

We have always sailed in conditions that were “comfortable” for us… about 10 knots of wind, both on the lake and ocean… and we have become very good at sailing this small/ quick boat.

We have never gotten into trouble, had any mishaps, and were feeling pretty confident about our skill level.

After our last time sailing in the ocean, we both agreed that we would like to test ourselves by sailing in some more extreme (windy) conditions.

Those conditions presented themselves yesterday (20+ mph winds) so we took to Lake Tapawingo to test our skills.

On our first trip across the lake… maybe 2-3 minutes into the sail we got tested.

The wind picked up and immediately capsized the Hobie. While we had read, and knew how to right the vessel, we had never been forced to do it.

As we gathered ourselves (and gear that was floating everywhere) the Hobie “turtled” on us … went completely upside down… mast pointing down into the water, bottom of the boat up.

turtle

After about 30 minutes of work (and with the help of two other boaters, one of which had experience sailing a Hobie) we were able to get the boat righted and started off.

Learning from our first mistake, we adjusted our weight on the boat to help prevent another capsizing and began sailing again…. and had several minutes of good sailing, putting to use our new knowledge of managing the boat in higher wind.

Then we got tested again…. another big gust and over we went!

This time, though, we got the boat righted immediately and were again on our way.

We had learned from our first “failure” and handled this challenge with relative ease.

A broken part on the rudder prevented us from continuing, or we may have been tested even more. As it was, we licked our wounds, dropped the sail, and ingloriously paddled the boat back to the dock.

At the dock we both debriefed… looking at what we could have done differently (better), what mistakes we made, and what we had learned.

We both agreed that, although we didn’t get a lot of sailing in that day, that we were glad we went out… that we tested ourselves.

It is only by getting out of our “comfort zone” that we can grow. It is only by testing our limits, that we can expand our limits.

I know now that I improved my Hobie sailing skills because of our “failures” that day.

Related Posts:

Remember – You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com

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Risk, Failure, and Trust

A few days ago in our Strength and Conditioning classes, we threw a “changeup” at our students… we introduced front squat instead of the normal (back squat) lift we do on our squat emphasis day.   I have documented our philosophy behind these “changeup” days before in this blog, (Throwing a “Changeup”, Jumping Mental Hurdles) essentially forcing the students to adapt and compete when something unexpected is thrown at them.

question mark eye

As I glanced around, looking at a room full of athletes with big question marks in their eyes, I asked them the rhetorical question “would I ever ask you to try something that I thought you couldn’t do?”

Of course, when you teach 7th and 8th grade student there are no rhetorical questions, and immediately a chorus of blurted out answers filled the weight room….

An emphatic “NO” was pretty much the consensus each hour….

But…. in each hour there was also the dissenting vote of “Yes… yes, you would”

When I quizzed those dissenters as to WHY they thought that way… why they thought I would ask them to try something that they may not be able to do, their answers were…

  • “you always want us to push ourselves”
  • “you want us to go to our limit”
  • “you always think we can do more.”
  • “you like for us to do difficult things”

And that is correct… I absolutely would ask them to try things that are difficult … that they may not be able to accomplish.

Now, I understand the thinking of the masses in each class… trusting that ‘ol Coach Floyd wouldn’t put them in harms way by asking them to do something unreasonable… and that is true as well.

But, as I explained to each class, failure is OK… it is an option. In fact, Failure is your ONLY option.

For, until you fail, you really do not know what your limits are…. if you never fail, you probably are not adequately stretching your boundaries… if you fear failure, you continually look to put yourself into situations that success is guaranteed.  When you do that, you are missing out on growth opportunities.

As their teacher and coach it is my responsibility to push them… to challenge them.

It is also equally my responsibility to make sure that they understand that failure (I failed) is an action and not an identity (I am a failure).

I want them to trust that what I ask of them, including their resultant effort, and possible failure, will, in the long run, benefit them as an athlete and/or a human being.

Failure is a learning opportunity.

Related Posts:

Remember – You Can Do More… your brain is lying to you…. Don’t Believe It!

Jeff Floyd – youcandomore1@yahoo.com