The importance of failure

I can’t tell you how many times I have blown a shot during a demonstration. It happens and while I try my best; even monkeys fall out of trees.

Fear of failure

The biggest problem I have is helping folks overcome their fear of failure. Honestly, it is a big part of why some folks avoid our training programs, because there is the possibility they can fail and it scares them. I get it and while it was not the intention of our programs, it is a great byproduct. You cannot expect everything to go well each and every time. You have to plan for some failures, you have to recognize you are fallible. That is one of the reasons why full dress rehearsals are so critical to the success of any team function; whether it be kicking down a door or taking the football field.

Face to face with ego

I think a lot of folks are embarrassed, they don’t want to look bad. Sure, of course not; who would. We all have ego’s and most are pretty damn fragile. I of course don’t want to look bad, in fact it is just the opposite. I want to set the example for others to follow, all of our staff are required to perform everything they teach to the point of failure. They have to know their limitations. Partly so they don’t push too hard during a demonstration, but also to continue to improve.

Pushing the limits

Yes, you have to fail in order to succeed. I know it sounds so counter-intuitive, but it is true. You cannot be afraid to look bad, you only need to be afraid of failing to fail. I was talking to one of our students about the new TACOST training program and he asked if some of the times were valid. I said of course they are, you may not be able to achieve them, but plenty of people can. It was funny at first, when I was explaining some of the drills are designed with failure in them. Yet, it is just expected everyone will be able to perform each drill to standard. That would certainly defeat the purpose of a training program, one designed with growth in mind.

Lighting the fire

Failure is a gift, embrace it in training because those failures will provide you with priceless insight and preparation. I am prouder of the student who fails, but tries harder to succeed. It shows great character, even in this artificial environment adversity is something to be overcome. Plus, it makes your successes more sweater. I had another student who commented to me in an email how he finally passed a class with us and his immediate follow up was he can’t wait for the next class. Knowing full well there is no guarantee he will pass. The point was the challenge forced him to work harder igniting the furnace that pushes us all.

Failure may not be an option in a real world operation or when orbiting the earth, but you bet your ass it is important in training and preparation.

5 thoughts on “The importance of failure

  1. Arson2 says:

    Having recently finished the Level 1 pistol class, i was a little butt hurt when I failed it. However, I don’t need a piece of paper on a wall that shows “pass” to prove that I learned something. I took a ton of info away from the class, and my “certificate of attendance” looks pretty good in the frame I bought for it. What the failure did do was point our my weaknesses, cause me to buy the TACOST deck and shoot until i get it right, and sign up for next week’s rifle class!!! Learning did, and will continue, to take place.

  2. RamZar says:

    Fear of failure in training when you’re pushing yourself or trying new techniques is a good thing. Wheels come off and you back off to make the hits. Don’t be afraid to see a reduction in hits and the subsequent disappointment. Sometimes you have to have the courage to take a step back to eventually take two steps forward. So, stick it out by giving a new technique serious time instead of rejecting it out of hand or without a serious trial or thinking of failure.

    Know why you failed by self-diagnosing. Often, I back off of a shot since I can feel the impending miss due to say bad grip, mis-aligned sights, etc. Call your shots. Stress-inoculate your fears by using a shot timer.

    Like Jeff says: “Failure is a gift, embrace it in training because those failures will provide you with priceless insight and preparation.”

      • RamZar says:

        I came across something relevant that Ron Avery wrote recently:

        “While success builds confidence, failure can be used to motivate one to prepare even harder. Instead of worrying about developing a training scar, I perceive failure as an opportunity to examine my weaknesses and mistakes objectively and then set about correcting them systematically. Instead of making excuses and rationalizing errors, I see what I need to improve upon. I can then create a training plan to deal with the problem areas.”

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