Success in Failure

In today’s world, we tend to only celebrate what we view as “success”. Getting a promotion, raising the smartest kids, PR’ing our snatch or even something as simple as making it to work on time. Success, as the end result, is all that matters. Growing up, this is what many of us were taught. It has become our mentality; success, success and more success. But let’s be honest, we don’t always succeed. Failure is that forbidden idea that no one wants to talk about. It not exciting or glamorous, and for most of us, it is often times something we would like to forget all together.

Crossfit is no different. We LOVE to succeed and do awesome stuff. The “honeymoon” period; this is where everything = success. We PR every lift, get faster at every benchmark and finally RX every workout. And this feels great! We are an unstoppable, superhuman, firebreather every time we walk into the gym; just sweating success. But this doesn’t last forever, and often times, this is where, for some, the experience ends. We no longer have “success” in everything we do. Here comes FAILURE (this is where you envision millions of people running from Godzilla). 

By definition, the word failure means “the lack of success”. Its synonyms include; nonfulfillment, defeat, and collapse. Ugh, no wonder this word has such a bad rep. That doesn’t sound like anything people would be interested in experiencing. But there are a few things that the definition is missing. They may in fact be the most important parts to understanding the idea of failure.

That’s right people, failure is an essential part of the process.


Failure is a part of life. If you don’t fail, you don’t learn

A few years ago, when my personal “honeymoon” period had ended and I hadn’t PR’d a lift in as long as I could remember; my coach said something to me that to this day I will never forget. “That was a successful fail. I will take a perfect fail over a crappy success any day” (Yes, crappy is a technical term). You can only imagine the dumbfounded look on my face when I heard this. How on earth can failure ever be better than success? The answer is fairly simple; failure guides us onto the path to success.                   

Failure is success in progress.

Success doesn’t just happen. It takes hard work and dedication. Dig back in that memory bank and remember learning to ride a bike. Falling was failure but it was okay to fall. When we first got on the bike, we fell immediately (scraping our knee). The second time we pedaled a few feet farther then fell again (now scraping our elbow). The third, fourth and fifth time we got a little farther (scraping other various parts of our bodies) until there was no more falling and we were doing it. Every fall and every scrape represent failure. But after each fall, we rode a little farther (this was progress). Finally, we rode like the wind (total success). Failure = progress = success.

Failure is not the opposite of success, it is the most important part.

If we never accept the potential of failure we are denying the opportunity for success. Failure guides us onto the path of success. Close your eyes and imagine a world without failure where everyone is good at everything. There are no promotion parties (where your boss gets embarrassingly drunk) because no one knows that a promotion is a good thing. Finally getting to work on time doesn’t bring a smile to your face nor does making it to your favorite ice cream shop for a double scoop cheat meal before they close. “Why?” you ask, because there is no failure and success is an everyday occurrence. Those epic PR dances/celebrations that we all love; yup, you guessed it, GONE!!!! It’s a pretty boring place. I’ll take failure over that any day. Accepting failure = Success.


Tomorrow, when you fail that lift or don’t improve on your Fran time, embrace it. Enjoy the moment. You may have failed, but in the long run your failure to achieve drives the need/desire to succeed. Although you may not be that unstoppable, superhuman firebreather today; tomorrow you will walk through those doors again. You have failed, but you have made progress and in that moment you are SUCCESSFUL.

-Coach Chels