The Goal is to Fail

In Fitness, Thoughts on February 24, 2012 at 9:08 am

I’ve always had the mindset that I should try, try, try again until I succeed. Failure is not an option, and definitely not something that should be embraced! Today, however, I got taught otherwise.

As I was attempting to obey the commands of my new trainer, Sarah, by lying on a mat and reaching my hand toward my opposite foot (making sure to raise my shoulder blades off the mat) I whined, “It feels like I’m failing… not okay.” I had said these words without realization and with zero intention of receiving Sarah’s response that followed, “but that’s the goal.”


I was confused, and the silly little grin on her face told me she was amused by my puzzlement. “The goal is to push yourself to failure; to push your muscles to failure.” I paused, laying on my back, staring at the ceiling and considered that for a moment. “The goal is to fail,” I repeated silently, lightly entertaining the idea before shrugging it off as ridiculous. The silence was broken by a shout of encouragement masked in imitation rage, “Go! Don’t just lay there! Keep moving!” I groaned as I lifted my right arm toward my left foot and found the two miles away from touching one another. “That’s okay. Keep going,” Sarah prompted, seeing my frustration.

As I continued, she explained. As I continued, I got worse. As I continued, I understood. It’s hard for me to admit I’m wrong, so I won’t… but I will admit she was right.

The goal is to fail. Who knew?

After heavy consideration, it makes sense, really. The goal is to compete with yourself, and push your muscles to the point of failure, because until you’ve failed you haven’t pushed yourself hard enough. If you want to get better at something you have to push yourself to your limit in an attempt to surpass it, which will 9 times out of 10 result in failure. The goal is to fail without being disappointed and when you finally succeed accept your success gracefully, but with all the enthusiasm appropriate for the occasion! And here’s the key, if the goal is failure, and you fail from pushing yourself to the breaking point, then you’ve succeeded. So 10 times out of 10, if you try, you will succeed.

It’s so hard for me, a self-proclaimed perfectionist, to accept failure as a step in the right direction and ultimately a success. It’s humbling for me to recognize my pride is a great deal of what keeps me from succeeding. What do I have to be prideful over? Absolutely nothing. So I’ll take Sarah’s urging to “Go! Keep moving!” and embrace failure, and ultimately humility, as the goal.


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