The Relentless Pursuit of Failure
This past weekend I had the honor of speaking about how to build a business at the Fall FMI Conference.
(If you aren’t familiar with FMI, it is a training resource for fitness and sports professionals that offers them career and personal development education.)
This was my first ever invitation to speak at FMI, and let me just tell you, it was a 5 star event.
The room was full of amazing people: doctors and lawyers, MBA’s, Phd’s, sports agents, as well as famous actors and models.
Even though I was a speaker at the event, I still learned a lot from many of the people there.
The founders Gary Warren and Clark Bartram are also two great guys who are passionate about educating up and coming sport & fitness talent about the business side of the industry…and they unselfishly sacrifice countless hours of their own time and money to host events like this past FMI Conference to help others succeed.
I can’t say that I blame them, because after giving my speech and then talking to many of the conference participants/answering questions I honestly say that there is almost no greater feeling than sharing information that will help someone else succeed.
That’s what it’s all about.
There were several other subject matter experts who also spoke at the conference…and they all delivered amazing presentations and shared tons of great info…but the message of one speaker in particular has been stuck in my head ever since.
That speaker’s name is Patrick Gamboa.
Patrick’s speech was only about 5 minutes long, but his message was profound.
He said, and I’m paraphrasing: “It’s funny, we train our bodies to failure in the gym each workout because we know that failure is required in order to tear the muscles down so they can heal… and then grow bigger and stronger. So why is it, that when we are outside of the gym, trying to start a business, or learn a new skill, or take a risk to achieve a dream, etc, that we are so afraid to apply the same concept?”
I sat there and thought about it for a few minutes…
And it got me wondering…
It happens to all of us at some point.
We all know (for the most part) that we can learn from it and then try again next time…
So why are we so afraid of it?
Has society conditioned us to be fearful of certain events? Perhaps it was our parents? Our teachers?
Is it something that happened in the past?
Maybe you went all in, took a huge risk, then screwed up and lost it all…?
Maybe you gave it your best shot and embarrassed yourself miserably…?
Maybe you ‘shot for the stars’ and fell flat on your face…?
Maybe your business went under, or you got fired, went bankrupt, or failed in a relationship…?
Maybe it was all your fault…
Or maybe it wasn’t…
Honestly though, who cares.
None of that stuff matters now. You failed, and it’s in the past.
There’s no point in sitting around analyzing the past, crying, and scrutinizing every bad decision you made along the way. Sure you may have made some stupid decisions and then endured some difficult times and hardships as a result…but you’ve got to leave all that stuff behind you.
You’ve got to learn from those failures and grow. That’s what failure is trying to teach you in the first place.
“In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.” ― Bill Cosby
You can’t grow unless you fail. It all makes perfect sense if you use Patrick’s simple analogy.
QUESTION: Are you afraid of failure as a concept or are you simply afraid of discovering your own greatness? Are these two things both Mutually Exclusive?
When I got sick my sophomore year of college and had to withdraw from the University of Miami, I thought my athletic career was over. I sank into a deep, dark depression, and even had suicidal thoughts. I had worked my ass off to put myself in that position…a full scholarship athlete at The U…and then POOF…it was GONE…and I felt like the biggest failure in the world.
Had it not been for my mom constantly encouraging me by saying stuff like “get back on the horse” and “life goes on” and “on to the next stage” and “winners never quit” I may have never eventually snapped back into my old self.
Of course, I was very sick with a severe stomach illness for the better part of two years, but the mental and emotional distress was probably even more crippling than the actual disease itself.
I was a mess.
After about six full months of feeling sorry for myself and moping around I eventually I mustered up the courage to hit the gym again and do some drills…and surprisingly I felt pretty good. None of the stuff I was worried about even happened (no nausea, no vomiting, no abdominal cramping, no emergency bathroom visits…).
Now, hitting the gym may seem like a very simple thing to do, but when your mind rebels against you…as mine did against me when I was sick…just about anything can give you a major panic attack. You literally turn into your own worst enemy.
By facing my fears and conquering that workout though…I overcame a major hurdle and gave myself a big confidence boost.
Long story short, I eventually made a comeback and finished out my college athletic career. I also overcame the illness and am in perfect health today. Sure, I probably could have just retired from tennis after being sick for so long and I bet nobody would have questioned it. But there is no honor in that.
We all owe it to ourselves to give it our all until we have nothing left to give. You’ve got to get back on the horse when you get knocked off. You’ve got to pursue your goals with a relentless aggression.
I’ve suffered countless disappointments and setbacks in my life…from tragic deaths in the family, losing friends & loved ones, illnesses, being broke, you name it.
So I totally get it. Right now you may:
Be emotionally weak.
Be surrounded by negative people.
But you need to accept the fact that life is going to beat you down. There will be massive hurdles, setbacks, disappointments, and failures in life. That’s just life. Make the most of it.
I think Lil’ Wayne said it best when he said “Life is a bitch, but just make sure that bitch is beautiful.”
At the end of the day though, you’ve got to realize that you’ve got to go after the life and dreams that you truly want. You always have the opportunity to take control, to do things your way, and take full control of any situation life presents you. Nobody is going to do it for you; you’ve got to make things happen for yourself.
You’ve got to have the confidence to believe that regardless of what life throws at you…you will overcome it and ride it through till the end.
Emotional hurdle? No problem.
Financial hurdle? No problem.
Mental roadblock? No problem.
Major illness? No problem.
Negative people? No problem.
Look, nobody goes through life without suffering at least one massive obstacle, tragedy, illness, setback, screw up, failure, etc. It’s all part of life. It’s how you deal with it that matters. You can move forward, or you can move backwards.
It’s your call.
Learn how to fail.
Learn how to get back up.
“I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot… and missed. And I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why… I succeed.” ― Michael Jordan
You can waste years of your life living in the past, regretting poor decisions and feeling sorry for yourself – or you can get back on the horse and ride again.
The problem is that most people are too scared to get on the horse because they are afraid of getting knocked off.
We get it.
Getting knocked off the horse sucks. It’s embarrassing as hell and it hurts when you land.
We totally get it.
I’m sure you’ve probably analyzed all of the various probabilities and outcomes of each scenario and according to your calculations, trying to succeed is far too risky.
We get it.
Or perhaps you’ve become an expert in risk analysis and according to your NEW calculations, it’s just too hard. The odds are not in your favor.
Stop overthinking basic situations to the point you are paralyzed with fear.
Stop worrying about the BS you can’t control.
Stop wasting time wondering “what if” this or “what if” that…
“What if I pitch my business idea to investors and they laugh at it?”
“What if my spouse yells at me for taking out a loan to start a business?”
“What if I fail and lose all of my money in the process?”
“What if I ask the girl I like on a date and she rejects me?”
“What if I quit my job and go after my real dreams?”
“What if an earthquake hits Los Angeles this week?”
“What if I get struck by lightning walking my dog today?”
It’s all BS!
Worrying does nothing but create unnecessary negative energy, make you doubt yourself and what you’re capable of, send your stress levels through the roof, and turn you into a miserable person to be around.
One thing I’ve noticed in my short time on the planet is that most unsuccessful people and unhappy people all usually have one thing in common – they are constantly stressing out and worrying and whining about everything.
Their decision making process is typically very risk averse and they usually get nowhere in life – ONLY because have defeated themselves before they even get started due to their own weak-minded thinking and “I’m a loser” attitude.
Think about that for a second. You are defeating yourself. With your own mind.
Once you start to worry you lose faith, and once you lose faith you lose hope, and once you start feeling hopeless you’re practically destined to fail.
Trust me, I’ve been there…and there is no darker, scarier place, than being in the prison of your own small mind.
Worrying and stressing out about meaningless crap gets you NOWHERE in life, and does nothing but make you miserable, lonely, scared, and broke.
Once that seed of doubt is planted and takes hold…your chances of success will diminish significantly and you’ll never make progress.
So if something is beyond your control (the weather, other people’s actions, the economy, etc) it’s useless to even get caught up worrying about it. You can’t do ANYTHING whatsoever to change it.
Instead, focus your energy on things you CAN control (your own actions, your attitude, your decisions) and stop wasting time on the useless nonsense and bullshit.
It’s as simple as that.
When I was extremely ill, I still got my fair share of negativity and bullshit from people in my circle. I had relatives tell me I was being a pussy, and I had coaches tell me I was faking it.
Let me just tell you, consistently hearing negative comments like this from people who are supposed to have your back will eventually take its toll. You start to get down on yourself, and eventually that leads to anger, resentment, self doubt, and fear.
So backed into a corner and faced with impossible odds, I decided to take extreme measures and make some ROSTER CUTS. To this day, it’s one of the smartest things I’ve ever done.
I cut all of the dead weight out of my life. From family members to friends, acquaintances, and everyone else whose mission in life was to do everything in their power to drag me down…I got rid of them all.
I used to be a bit less strict with who I let into my circle, but over the years I’ve realized that negative people will drag you down faster than a plane that got shot out of the air with a nuclear missile. Now, I don’t care if it’s a relative, business partner, long time friend, girlfriend, whatever, if they bring negativity they’re gone. I cut them loose without hesitation.
Shit talkers… gone.
Jealous people… gone.
Pessimistic people… gone.
People who are risk averse…gone.
People who are always broke… gone.
People who argue against everything you say…gone.
People who are “holier than thou”…gone.
People who walk into the room and everyone gets quiet…gone.
People who are reading this and think I may be talking about them…gone.
Hell, if I listened to the majority of my friends and relatives I would have never had the balls to move from Maryland to California with less than 300 bucks in my pocket. I’d probably be sleeping on my mom’s couch right now hating life, full of regret, and constantly wondering “what if”…
“You want to be a fitness model?” they said…“You think people will buy stuff off of your silly little websites?” they said…“You just got your MBA and you aren’t going to try to get a finance job or work on Wall Street?” they said…“HAHA you’re an idiot!” they said…
Sure, it was a grind at first… and I was literally homeless for the first WEEK I was in LA…but I’m exactly where I want to be in life right now and I could not be happier.
Now, those old haters who called me a moron for following my dream try to come at me and constantly ask for free fitness and diet advice. I’ll pass on that though. You can purchase a program off of my silly little website, buddy.
Even to this day, the same friends and relatives who tried to discourage me in the first place STILL try to convince me to come back and live how they’re living and where they’re living. No thanks. No disrespect, but that’s just not for me. You do your thing and I’ll do mine.
Listen, I’m not telling you any of this stuff to brag or because I’m some asshole, I just want you to understand that if you want to be successful you’ve got to keep your inner circle tight…and you’ve got to do what’s best for you and not what’s best for everyone else.
“I don’t know the key to success but the key to failure is to try to please everyone.” ― Bill Cosby
Regardless of what you may think, you will become just like the people you choose to hang around the most, and if these people are jealous haters who spread negativity, you will probably end up just like them. Their negativity will eventually consume you, you’ll change the way you look at things, and your chances of success will go down to practically ZERO.
Want to be broke? Hang out with broke people. Study their moves. Do as they do.
Want to be a hater? Hang out with a group of haters for a while and see how quickly you’ll start hating on everything that moves.
Want to amount to nothing in life? Hang out with people who have also amounted to nothing in life.
Want to be smarter? Hang out with intelligent people. Maybe even take a night class.
Want to be a fitness model? Train with a fitness model. Maybe even move to California.
Want to make more money? Hang out with rich people. Maybe they will show you some creative ways to pay for that night class or finance that big move to California.
Want to be happier? Eliminate all negative people from your inner circle and replace them with intelligent, positive people who never throw hate, jealousy, or bitterness your way.
That’s right. It’s SHAKEDOWN time.
Sure, most of the people you cut from your roster will say you’re an asshole, or that you’re a poser who is pretending like you’re so much better than everyone else, but who cares. At the end of the day you’ve got to do what’s best for you and you can’t worry about what anyone else says about it.
“Haters gonna hate.”
You already know this.
I don’t even need to say it.
If you want to start a business, or quit your day job to chase your dream, or even eat healthier to get in better shape…these are concepts that the average hater simply just can’t understand.
They just can’t wrap their mind around them. Because it scares them.
It scares them that you are going after something that they are too afraid, or too weak, or not intelligent enough to go after themselves.
So they hate on it by giving you free “advice”. They tell you that it’s risky, they tell you that it’s stupid, they tell you that it’s impossible, and then they tell you their magic solution for how you can do it better.
When you have a goal that is so unfathomable to the average hater, who is miserably cruising through life, regretting every decision they ever made or didn’t make, that hater is going to let you know exactly what they think about it.
And they will tell you how dumb, silly, risky, and impossible your dream or goal is. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
Fuck ‘em though. It’s your life.
Do what you want to do.
Work where you want to work.
Love who you want to love.
Lift how you want to lift.
Live where you want to live.
Be who you want to be.
Whatever you want to do, just go after it. If people don’t like it, who cares! Do your thing and don’t EVER let anyone bring you down or deter you from pursuing your goals. Just continue to focus onward and upward and always keep things positive.
I promise you that if you are constantly positive and if you keep people who are constantly positive around you all the time…more opportunities will suddenly start to appear for you out of the blue. I don’t know how this works, it just does.
At the end of the day: you can’t be afraid of failure because failure is one of life’s greatest teachers. You will start out with a goal, but at some point you will inevitably fail. When you do fail, embrace that failure. Learn from it. Then get right back up and continue grinding again.
There is so much opportunity out there and literally anything is possible, especially if you’re willing to work your ass off to get it. You may not be able to see it, but it’s right there in front of you. You’ve just got to stay after it. Don’t ever quit. If you truly want it you’ve got to pursue it with a strong passion and with a relentless aggression.
Get your mind right playa, get your grind right.
Thanks for reading, don’t forget to pound ‘LIKE’ if you enjoyed this post.
PS. If you’re sick of failing in the gym an awesome stress reduction/strength training program that I highly recommend is Minimalist Training. Click HERE to check it out and learn how to eliminate the stress, confusion, and frustrating plateaus from your workouts.
PPS. Here are a few more of my favorite quotes on failure:
“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
“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” ― Johnny Cash
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.” ― Steve Jobs
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ― Thomas A. Edison