This is an argument for why adversity can lead us to failure, and how we can avoid this pitfall and turn it into success.
1. Failure is natural
These days it seems we glamorize that we’re inherently skilled at some things and challenged by others. Realistically, at 5’7” and not the most athletically gifted, the chances of me having made it into the NBA were very slim. I was about the same size from middle to high school; many other kids could eat my lunch on the court. These kids blocked my shots, ran faster than me, and jumped higher than I did. They were naturally suited for basketball and stood to earn a higher likelihood of success in this sport. I never made it past a single high school tryout before I quit. This failure led me to think that, because I’m not naturally fit for basketball, that I could never succeed in that sport.
People apply this every day to their lives; I’m not good at math, so I’ll never be an engineer. I’m not good at words, so I’ll never write a book (pun intended).
This leads us to sliding into things we’re moderately successful at because of its ease.
2. We’re taught to give up on things we don’t excel at
It’s acceptable to teach our kids that, if you’ll top out at 5’5”, perhaps shooting for the NBA is unreasonable. This isn’t all together awful; we want to set ourselves and our kids up for success, so by steering away from insurmountable odds and towards things they’re naturally adept at, they’ll increase likelihood of success.
But what if I really, really liked basketball?
Should I stop because I’m statistically destined to fail? Should I strive for an outlook that’s someone else’s picture of success? Or should I, perhaps, practice my craft enough to master it? Well, the real truth is:
3. We succeed at the things we work to improve
It’s said it takes ten thousand hours to master something. If I were truly so passionate about something, I could spend two hours every day for about 14 years to become that expert. Starting from the age of 4 or 5, even a 5’5” kid could become quite skilled at basketball by the time they’re ready for college.
And what if we didn’t start until later in life? Perhaps by the time we’re ready for the NBA, we’ve moved past our physical prime. We can still apply this passion (paired with immense, dutifully developed skill) towards coaching. We can still manage a team. If we’re writers, we can still publish or help other writers.
We shouldn’t allow mediocrity just because striving for more is difficult. Parents shouldn’t let their own successes or failures dictate their kids’ efforts or choices. I know the whole, “even if you shoot for the moon and miss, you’ll still end up amongst the stars” stuff is cliché, but perhaps there’s a truth to it. That kid who was “destined” not to make it to the NBA eventually gets through college and plays around in the pros a little. Even if he’s not a Lebron James, he’s still developing a network that’s immensely more influential than you or I may ever know—and as I see it, there’s no failure in that.