What Weightlifting Has Taught Me (Part 2 – Failure

Coach jen is back with another guest blog. If you missed part one of her series, check it out here: https://www.pdxstrength.com/2018/02/weightlifting-taught-part-1-patience/

Hi Friends! I’m back with another installment of lessons learned from the barbell. Here we go…
Lesson 2: It’s OKAY to Fail
Let me repeat for those in the back: IT. IS. OKAY. TO. FAIL.
First, let’s talk about it in the context of weightlifting:
Of course, the ideal situation would be where we never miss lifts ever and we all hit every single snatch and clean & jerk until the end of time in Magical Unicorn Fairyland! But, sadly, THIS IS NOT REALITY. (And if this Magical Unicorn Fairyland does exist, someone PLEASE let a girl know so I may visit/buy a condo there.)
We miss sometimes. Some lifts are bad. Some lifts are good and we still miss. 
(Side note: You CAN miss a lift and it can still be a good lift. I have told this plenty of times to athletes I have worked with. It IS possible to have done everything well and fixed the particular problem that needed to be fixed but something else could have been off. Any lift in which you have learned something about yourself as a lifter can be considered a “good lift”. A lot of times when you fix one thing, it may throw off other aspects of your lift until you take the time to fix that next thing. But we can only really focus on one thing at a time and drill it until it becomes consistent… and so the process goes.
On the other side of it, it IS possible to make a lift and it can still be a bad lift. I’m sure you’ve all seen them a time or two… someone makes a heavy or PR lift but it’s ugly as shit/the most cringeworthy thing you have ever seen. Improvement in weightlifting is not just about the numbers and the PRs but also about the constant pursuit of perfect technique. Plus, good technique will eventually equal heavier lifts.)
This is all to say that failure is inevitable. It means you are trying. Failure means you are putting yourself out there, you are putting yourself on the line, you are taking the risk. It means you are attempting to put a ridiculous amount of weight over your head and though it may not get overhead the first time (or the second, or third, or fourth, or… you get the idea), with persistence and resilience it will get there. Eventually. But that weight will never get overhead if you never try in the first place. Failing means that you took the risk and though it may not have been successful the first time, you were GIVEN the opportunity to learn what worked and what didn’t and now you can apply that information to the next lift.
Hmmm… kind of sounds like life, right?
Being successful in life and moving forward and growing as a person is about taking those big risks without the guarantee that the outcome will be good. Do you think at the end of your life you will regret all the big crazy beautiful things you did or would you regret all the things you never had the courage to do? Travel to that country you’ve always wanted to visit? Ask that special person out on a date? Climb that mountain? Start that business you’ve been dreaming about?
There are inevitable risks in life and nothing is guaranteed but you will never know what is on the other side of that risk if you never try. And trying means failing sometimes. Failing takes courage. Failing means you take a moment to reassess, learn, and move forward a little wiser and more experienced.
Trust me, I know how scary failing is. Growing up, I was a perfectionist. (Maybe chalk it up to growing up in an Asian household.) Everything I did, I had to do perfectly and I had to be the BEST or it wasn’t worth doing. And so I would start things: gymnastics, ice skating, ballet, martial arts, acting, playing the violin, applying for med school… but then I would quit before I could get anywhere because I was too afraid of failing. I was too afraid of looking like I had no idea what I was doing. (News Flash: I’m pretty sure no one really knows what they’re doing but we all just kind of “fake it ‘till you make it” until we figure it out.) I was too afraid of looking silly or foolish or stupid. I was too afraid I would disappoint the people around me and disappoint myself because I wasn’t good enough. 
You WILL fail. It WILL happen at some point. And you will fail at many different things in life: in school, in your career, in your relationships. I have lived WAY too much of my life being afraid of failure. And this has caused me to hold myself back from going for the things I really want in life WAY too many times. It wasn’t until I decided I was good enough and realized the risk of failing would never outweigh the risk of not trying that I started to see some forward movement in my life. (P.S. This, like, just recently happened. It ONLY took me 32 years to figure out – which kind of annoys me, tbh. I’d probably be a cast member on Saturday Night Live by now like I said I would in my high school yearbook.)
TL;DR – Go ahead, take the risk. TRY. Fail. And then get back up and do it again.
Until next time, Happy Lifting!
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