Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Failure IS an option

One of the best learning experiences you can have is to fail at something. This is when you really find out who you are and what your made of. I love to read business books. One pattern that you start to see when you study the people who build successfull business's is that they almost all failed first. The difference between these people and most is that they didn't give up. What some call a failure others simply chaulk up as a mistep on their way towards accomplishing the big goal.

When I started my business I remember certain people being taken aback when I said that if it failed I would simply start a new one. In the business world it is commonly said that failure is not an option. I believe it IS an option, but that doesn't mean that you give up.

In October of last year I had one of the biggest failures of my life. Me and my friend John Lacroix set out to run across New Hampshre, all 124 miles of it...non-stop. I had absolutely NO doubt that I would finish that run. What I didn't know was that at about mile 60 my right foot would start to hurt. Hurt badly. Like, new type of pain that I haven't experienced before. By mile 70 I was done. It wouldn't have been so bad except that John and I had done a ton of promoting this run. Our goal was to raise $10,000 for the New Hampshire Make-A-Wish foundation and the best way to raise money was to let a ton of people know about it. We were in newspapers, on the radio and on the local news.

John went on to finish the run. It was an incredible experience for him and it was terrible for me. I was very proud of him, but extremely dissapointed in myself. I'm not used to not accomplishing what I set out to do. The next few weeks were tough for me. Every time I saw another article featuring John and hardly mentioning me I got more upset. I later found out that I had stress fractured my foot, but I couldn't help feeling that I just wasn't being tough enough. I know that its not rational as the doctor told me that my foot would have simply cracked and broken if I had continued.

At first I didn't want to talk to anybody about it. I had so many people who were incredibly supportive tell me how proud of me they were and what a good job I did. After all, they said, you did run 70 miles!! But for me, it was an absolute failure, pure and simple. I tried to be gracious to everybody, but I'm not sure I did such a good job. I just didn't want to talk about running.

I can't say that I have fully recovered from my dissapointement. One thing I do know is that now my foot is mostly healed and my training is going well. My love of running is as strong as ever and ultimately that is all that matters. I am driven to try a longer race (150 miles) and run faster at the Vermont 100 this year. It will only be a matter of time before I achieve a new triumph and feel on top of the world and the bitterness of the run across NH fades away and is replaced with the joy of a new triumph.

At that point I am sure I will be thankfull for failing, because that is what pushed me to try harder and succeed.

Listen below to Public Radio's "Weekend America" report on the run.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like this take on things, failure being an option. Realistic but still not holding you back or quashing the goal.
Ann D