If my athlete falls, then did he fail?
Some coaches would say yes. It is obvious to them. You failed to do the skill properly. You failed to do exactly as you were told. You failed to exercise control over your muscles. You failed to land.
But gymnasts fall down every day. And even the best gymnast has fallen down. In fact, I would venture to say that is the best gymnasts who have fallen the most.
Gymnastics is a sport with inherent risk—every activity involving height, speed, or motion involves risk. So in training, athletes are bound to fall. It is a calculated risk. A manageable risk. But still a risk none the less.
So when I think of falling, I do not think immediately of failure.
Instead I see the process of perfection, the pursuit of excellence. I see athletes building strength, character, and will. I see athletes disciplining their body and commanding their muscles to obedience.
If they fall, they have not failed. They have discovered and succeeded in finding one more way how not to finish that particular trick.
They have displayed courage and aggression towards their challenge.
They have faced risk and confronted fear and stepped one step closer to mastering the skill.
Likewise, life is a sport with inherent risk. The chances we take can lead to a solid landing, or a fall flat to our faces.
I started a business at nineteen years old. Somehow, I pulled the resources together, found and united a staff, and then opened my doors for business in July of 2013.
It was exciting, it was scary, but in this analogy it was a new “skill” for a relatively inexperienced new “athlete.” Sure I trained for it, I was the head coach and manager of a facility before this. Sure I knew the sport, I was a national level judge and elite level athlete. But none the less, the risk was high that I would fall on this new skill, this new adventure.
I knew the risk going in, and almost decided the risk to be too great. I almost considered myself too inexperienced and too young—the rest of the world certainly did.
But I took the advice I had been giving my athletes for years: face the challenge, display the courage, and confront the fear and some one step closer to success.
Even if my business fails, even if I fall flat on my face, I will consider the experience a success.
Because the risk was losing a company, but the potential return on investment, the potential reward… was changing the lives of children, impacting the lives of those around me, becoming an example to those I lead, and leading those in my witnessing field towards Jesus Christ.
The risk was great. The potential was greater. And I believe eternity to be a different place because of the ministry God has given me in gymnastics.
If one day I fall and my business fails, It will simply mean then end of one ministry and the beginning of another—with the same veracity as the one before it.
Falling is not failing.
Therefore, my advice—for what is worth—is to be smart. Don’t take on risk for the sake of risk. Don’t fall for the sake of falling. That, I would consider foolish.
My advice is this:
Reach for the stars. Dream big. And do not let anyone tell you that you are too young, or too inexperienced or too (insert any other excuse here) to change the world around you.
Do not let the risk of falling hold you back. As I said before, I think the best gymnasts are the ones who have fallen the most. They have certainly trained the most, they have certainly worked the most, and they are certainly the ones with the most exposure to, and risk of, falling.
Whatever you are, be the best at it.
If you are going to dream, dream big. If you are going to work, work hard. If you are going to reach, reach for the stars (because even if you fall, you’ll still land in the clouds).
Falling is not failing.
Failing to try—that is failure.