Is Failure Real?
by Keith Wahl
I’ve become convinced of a number of things in this last year and a half as I’ve chased the Wild Goose. One of those things is that it really is all about the journey and not a destination. My high school baseball coach told me that a long time ago and continues to tell me the same thing to this day. The journey shapes us and it’s only as we get outside of our comfort zone that we experience the journey fully.
Inside this journey in life and in baseball, I’ve started to ask a question - is failure real?Hang in there with me for a second, baseball community. We’ve all heard the cliches in baseball - “baseball is a game rooted in failure” or “a hitter who fails 7 times out of 10 is an All Star.” Even in Bottom of the Ninth we’ve discussed moving “From Freedom to Failure,” “Curing Discouragement in a Game of Failure”, and the idea that “I Will Rise” in the face of failure. But is “failure” and all of the weight that is associated with that term the right word to use on the journey?
Author Deborah Moggach said, “The only real failure is the failure to try, and the measure of success is how we cope with disappointment.” This idea resonated with me. It’s disappointing to strikeout, boot a groundball, or give up a home run, but it’s how we cope with that disappointment that dictates the speed of our journey. Fighter Connor McGregor has embraced this idea that you never really lose, but you either “win or learn” in your journey. I was also encouraged by Nicolas Cole who wrote an article called “Failure Doesn’t Actually Exist.” Maybe it’s time we implement this idea into our game and into our lives.
The first key to a cleaner, more peaceful journey inside and outside the game of baseball might be to dump “failure” from our vocabulary. Think about what Jesus did on the cross for all of us. He erased failure. Have you taken time today to acknowledge that reality? In spite of Christ’s sacrifice, we constantly try to hold on to all that we’ve done wrong and it weighs us down. Jesus broke our chains, eliminated death by giving us eternal life, and provides us with an opportunity to live free.
My encouragement to everyone is to remove the word “failure” from your vocabulary - internally and externally. Reframe your experiences to allow yourself the grace to learn, grow, and continue on your journey.
“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”
- Theodore Roosevelt